Adding Value to Feeder Calves

Beth Ellen Doran, northwest beef field specialist


Northwest Iowa has hosted a series of pre-conditioned feeder cattle sales sanctioned by the Northwest Iowa Pre-Conditioned Sale Committee, the Iowa Cattlemen's Association, the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association and Sheldon Livestock Sales, Inc.  Data from the Iowa Department of Agriculture Market News indicates that traditional Green Tag calves bring $2 to $3 per hundredweight more than calves not pre-conditioned.  In the fall of 2003, the Pre-Conditioned Sale Committee addressed the need to upgrade the health requirements of the original Green Tag program.  Feedlot buyers indicated feeder cattle were developing respiratory diseases, especially when co-mingled with cattle from other sources.  


The Pre-Conditioned Sale Committee designed a Double Green Tag program to meet today's challenges.  All mandatory vaccinations of the original pre-conditioning certificate were required to be boostered.  Modified live viruses were to be used at prescribed times.  Pasteurella (killed or modified live) and internal parasite treatment were both required.  Three pre-conditioned sales (December 20, 2003; January 10, 2004; and February 7, 2004) offered cow-calf producers the opportunity to sell traditional Green Tag calves or Double Green Tag calves.  Data about the cattle in the sales was collected by Beth Doran, ISU Beef Field Specialist, and analyzed by John Lawrence, Iowa Beef Center Director, to determine value differences.   


A total of 109 cow-calf producers consigned 3617 head of cattle.  Thirty-one consignors offered 1071 head of Double Green Tag calves.  There was a premium of $2.25 per hundredweight for calves that were double-tagged, which was significant at the 90% confidence level.  These cattle grossed an additional $15,145 because of their upgraded health program.

This fall (2004), the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association and the Iowa Cattlemen's Association moved to continue with the Green Tag program but also adopted a Gold Tag program that requires boostered vaccinations, internal parasite treatment and a longer weaned period.  While the Gold Tag is not as strict as the Double Green Tag, it does indicate intent to improve the health protocol for pre-conditioned calves.   

Oct.1, 2004
107 - Iowa Beef Center

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