Iowa Beef Cattle Pre-Conditioning Program

Nolan R. Hartwig, Faculty, Veterinary Medicine

The Iowa Beef Cattle Pre-Conditioning Program was initiated in 1966.  It was the prototype and remains the premier program of its type in the United States.  Support for this program continues.  In addition to the positive economic impact the program has had in Iowa and throughout the nation, a major success has been the large number of cooperators that have helped with the program in Iowa.  These include Iowa Veterinary Medical Association, private industry, the Iowa Cattlemens Association, private practitioners, cattle producers, livestock auction markets, and others.  Pre-conditioned cattle that are vaccinated, treated, weaned, and individually identified have become the standard for healthy feedlot replacements nationwide.  The spin-off impacts are significant but are difficult to measure. 

Data for the past few years are:
Tags sold (equates to numbers of cattle pre-conditioned):
                                Green Tags              Gold Tags

  1. 422,000
  2. 423,500
  3. 457,600
  4. 396,200         87,700*
  5. 414,300         60,600
  6. 420,900         56,800

Health and economic benefits accrue to cow/calf and feedlot producers.  Veterinarians, auction markets, and other agri-business firms benefit from the increased value and safety of beef cattle.  The pre-conditioning programs can serve as source identified cattle, meeting potential future requirements that may be implemented by USDA.  ISU, ICA, the Iowa Department of Economic Development, Iowa Beef Center and others have contributed to a computer-based database and tracking system that can support future programs such as electronic animal identification, animal tracking, and other programs.  This program will facilitate and simplify record keeping, pre-conditioning certificate monitoring, animal sales, disease control, and other programs. 

For several years, the IVMA has assumed leadership for this program, but the team approach, involving many organizations and individuals has made this program successful.  For several years, approximately half of the Iowa calf crop is officially pre-conditioned using this program. 

Attached are official summaries of research and development support for the program.  July 2007
140 Iowa Beef Center


Page last updated: August 6, 2007
Page maintained by Linda Schultz,