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Spring born calf management strategies add value at sale time

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Management strategies such as implanting, castration, dehorning and vaccinations can be done to spring born calves now to add value to them at sale time.

“Management in the form of processing spring calves can be done now to add value to calves at sale time,” University of Missouri Extension Regional Livestock Field Specialist Patrick Davis said. 

“Bull calves need to be castrated as young as possible to reduce pain issues,” Davis said. 

Surgical castration involves using a knife to open the scrotum and remove the testicle. Non-surgical castration is bloodless castration and involves clamping the blood flow to the testicles by elastrator or a burdizzo clamp. 

Davis urges cattle producers to consult a veterinarian for more information when determining the best castration method for their operation and other medications that should be given at castration time.

“Dehorn calves as young as possible to reduce pain issues,” Davis said. 

Dehorning can be done at an age of less than 2 weeks with caustic paste or at older ages by mechanical means. 

Davis urges cattle producers to consult a veterinarian on proper time and method of dehorning as well as any pain medication that might need to be given. 

Davis also urges cattle producers to select polled (cattle that genetically do not have horns) cows or bulls for their operation. This management strategy will reduce the incidence of calves being born with horns and naturally reduce the need for dehorning.

“If you do not plan to keep replacement heifers, use growth promoting implants to cheaply improve calf gain,” Davis said. 

Davis urges cattle producers to check the effectiveness of the implant and whether multiple implants should be provided from calving to weaning.

“Begin spring born calf vaccination programs now to promote optimum calf health during their lifetime,” Davis said. 

Calves should be vaccinated for infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), bovine viral diarrhea (BVD), parainfluenza-3 (PI3), bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV) and clostridial disease via a seven-way clostridial vaccine (Blackleg, etc). Calves should receive two rounds of these vaccinations prior to weaning. 

Davis suggests cattle producers consult with a veterinarian to plan a calf vaccination program that will promote optimum lifetime health.

“Management of calves to promote optimum health and reduce stress over their lifetime leads to

optimum productivity,” Davis said. “Furthermore, buyers are willing to pay incentives for calf preweaning management that leads to optimum lifetime animal productivity.” 

For more information on preweaning management that results in optimum calf productivity over its lifetime contact your local MU Extension Regional Livestock Field Specialist.

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