Preconditioning for Calves

The daily radio program ‘Agriculture Today with Eric Atkinson,’ courtesy of Kansas State University, is a fantastic resource for ag and livestock producers. To listen, tune into the broadcast in your area, subscribe, or visit their website to see a past library of all podcasts. 


The August 17, 2020 show has an informative ten minute discussion on ‘Pre-Conditioning for Calves’ with K-State Research & Extension beef veterinarian A.J. Tarpoff . Here, we review the important points and Dr. Tarpoff’s recommendations. 



Dr. Tarpoff defines ‘pre-conditioning’ as “the general process of getting your calves ready to be marketed in the Fall. An essential part of preconditioning is the underlying health of the animal. One of the first steps to prepare a calf for this journey is a pre-wean vaccine. As weaning is the most stressful time for a calf, Dr. Tarpoff recommends the first vaccine 3 to 4 weeks prior to weaning. This is because the immune system will better respond in this low stress environment which increases the odds of the vaccine taking effect.



Typical vaccine shots given pre-weaning are focused on preventing respiratory and clostridial (blackleg) diseases. Many of the verified pre-conditioning programs available require the use of modified-live viral (MLV) vaccines. The proper care and handling of these MLV vaccines are important as these are live viruses, so keep them cool while using them outdoors.  



As always, please consult your veterinarian for your specific herd health management plan. 



To listen to the podcast, click here – starts at the 12:54 minute mark.

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