A recent Drovers article, "Add Value to Your Calves This Fall," from Dr. Derrell Peel of Oklahoma State University discusses the price premium for weaned over unweaned calves, citing recent auction data showing that weaned steers earned a $49/head premium. As such, Dr. Peel recommends at least a 45-day preconditioning program which should include the following:
"It is recommended that calves receive two rounds of respiratory and Clostridial vaccines. Calves vaccinated at branding should receive a second round at weaning. Otherwise, vaccinations can be done at least two weeks prior to weaning and again at weaning; or at weaning and at least two weeks after weaning. Producers are encouraged to become certified in Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) standards and to follow BQA practices for preconditioning calves....Research confirms that vaccinations, weaning and certification all contribute to added value in preconditioning programs."
The Oklahoma Quality Beef Network (OQBN) is a joint project of the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service and the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association that provides value-added information to cattle producers and other segments of the beef industry. The OQBN site has a Vac-45 Budgeting Tool spreadsheet where you can input various cost estimates to calculate whether a preconditioning program makes sense for your operation.
As always, consult your veterinarian or ag extension agent for the program(s) that makes the most sense for your herd. Make every shot count with CattleVacBox.