Pre-weaning Calves: Decreasing Disease and Increasing Value
Dr. W. Dee Whittier, Extension Veterinarian, Cattle, VA-MD Regional College of Vet. Med.
Calves that have been weaned before they are marketed are bringing premium prices in Virginia and across the country. This is at least partly due to the estimation of their increased health status but is probably also due to the perception that those who cared enough to market their calves this way probably cared about genetics and other factors that go into the production of high quality calves.
In a conversation with Bill McKinnon the other day he commented how easy it is to sell calves that have been pre-weaned. He also reminded me that in the relative few years since the Virginia Quality Assured (VQA) program was initiated the change in the percent being sold that are pre-weaned has been a flip-flop from few historically to most this year.
The increase in demand for pre-weaned calves comes along with some significant changes in the cattle industry. An increased number of calves have gone straight to feedlots in recent years. Feeders see lots of calves compared to many stocker operators. I’m convinced that they have been quick to recognize the decrease in disease seen in pre-weaned calves.