Nebraska BQA: Preconditioning and Weaning Preparation

Cow-calf producers are nearing weaning time of their 2017 calf crop. With current market and industry trends, producers should be considering and preparing for preconditioning or weaning programs. It is important to consider the best programs for the health of calves during these stressful periods and into the feeding phases.
    Preconditioning is designed to mitigate stress that occurs during the transitional period between weaning and going on feed or moving into the next production cycle. The typical preconditioning program involves a health protocol of vaccinations administered 21-30 days prior to weaning. The basic concept of preconditioning programs is boost the calf’s health status or immune system prior to exposure to stressors and pathogens as they enter that next production cycle. Preconditioning has also been shown to improve efficiency, as well as, reduce the risk and cost of treatment for health diagnosis after weaning. Nebraska Extension NebGuide G2248, “Economic Considerations for Preconditioning Calves for Feedlots” (, can assist producers in implementing preconditioning programs.
    The first step in developing a preconditioning or weaning program should be to consult with your veterinarian under a Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR). Working with your veterinarian will ensure a program is designed specifically for your operation goals and addresses the potential pathogens or parasites the animals might encounter.  The recommended preconditioning or weaning protocol from the University of Nebraska Great Plains Veterinary Education Center includes a four-way BRD viral (IBR, BVD, PI3, and BRSV), BRD bacterial (at least Mannheimia Hemolytica), and clostridial (Blackleg) vaccinations. It is also important to follow Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) guidelines by reading product labels to ensure proper handling, storage, and administration of these products.

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