Effects of preconditioning on pre- and post-shipment performance of feeder calves

South Dakota State University, Brookings 57007.


A preconditioning (PC) program that involved preweaning vaccination and preshipment weaning was evaluated utilizing 600 calves produced on four South Dakota ranches. Nonpreconditioned (NPC) controls were herd mates that were maintained with their dams during the preconditioning process. All calves were shipped from the ranch to the feedlot on the same date. In Exp. I, PC caused lower (P less than .001) preshipment gains. However, management x ranch and management x year effects indicated that response to PC was variable. Preconditioning reduced (P less than .001) transit shrink in Exp. I but caused greater (P less than .05) shrink in Exp. II. Ranch and management x ranch effects accounted for more of the variation in shrink than PC did. In the feedlot, PC calves consumed more feed initially (d 1 to 28; P less than .001) and during the entire (P less than .10) feeding period when fed to slaughter condition. During the 28-d postshipment period, calves fed higher-grain diets consumed more feed (P less than .001) and were less efficient (P less than .001) than calves fed corn silage. When fed for longer periods (greater than 28 d), higher-energy diets improved feedlot gains and feed efficiency independent of preconditioning. Health and performance responses to this preconditioning procedure were variable. Our preconditioning procedure did not improve beef production efficiency.


R. H. Pritchard, and J. K. Mendez, Effects of preconditioning on pre- and post-shipment performance of feeder calves, J Anim Sci 68: 28-34.