Gold Tags Add to Feeder Cattle Value

Beth Doran,  ISU Extension Beef Field Specialist, Northwest

Problem

 Pre-conditioning is a calf management program that originated in Iowa in 1965. The program is designed to reduce risk, health problems and improve profitability for both cow-calf producers and feedlots. However, in the fall of 2003, Iowa State University Extension, the Northwest Iowa Pre-Conditioned Sale Committee, Iowa Veterinary Medical Association and Iowa Cattlemen's Association addressed the need for an alternative health protocol, in addition to the original green tag program. Local feedlot buyers were asking for changes in the health program, and a double-tagged program was designed to address this need. The Iowa Beef Center reported that double-tagged calves sold for $2.25 per hundred-weight more than calves that had been traditionally green-tagged.

Response

 Four pre-conditioned feeder calf sales (December 11, January 8, February 5 and March 5) were scheduled at Sheldon Livestock Sales Company, but only two sales (December and January) materialized. These sales offered cow-calf producers the opportunity to sell traditional green-tag calves or double-tagged calves. The double-tag program is also referred to as the Gold Tag program. In this health protocol, the calves are re-vaccinated 14 or more days after the first vaccination, and a gold tag is placed in the left ear above the green tag. The gold tag indicates the calves have received a second set of vaccinations and have been weaned for 45 days.

Impact

 High feeder calf prices in the fall 2004 and early winter 2005 caused cattle to move to auction earlier than usual. Hence, only two of the four scheduled sales occurred. A total of 3052 head of feeder cattle were consigned by 99 producers. Of these, 1000 head (32.8 %) were gold-tagged calves and were consigned by 35 producers. Based upon double-tagged calves capturing $2.25 more per hundred-weight, the 1000 head of gold-tagged calves grossed an additional $14,244 or $14.24 per head more than the green-tagged calves, indicating an economic incentive for double vaccination.

August 2, 2005
121 - Adding Value and Enhancing Agricultural Products

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