Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Agriculture

Degree Type

Master of Science


Two "Value-Added Calf (VAC) Programs were evaluated relative to feedlot performance and profitability. Two hundred seventy-three head of feeder calves were included in this study. Ninety-five Certified: Preconditioned for Health (CPH), ninety KCA Gold Tag and eighty-eight "Sale Barn" cattle were fed at Horton's Research Feedyard in Fort Lupton, Colorado. No background information regarding the health status of the Sale Barn cattle was known. Cattle were purchased in December 1997 and were entered in the Rocky Mountain Ranch-to-Rail program on January 6, 1998. The cattle were checked daily for illness and taken to a hospital pen for treatment if symptoms of Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) were observed. In addition, the cattle were weighed on January 6 and again on March 14 to measure performance parameters. Morbidity rates were 31.6%, 36.7% and 78.4% for the CPH, KCA Gold Tag and Sale Barn groups, respectively. When separated by the number of trips to the hospital pen (0= no trips, 1= one trip and 2+= two or more trips), 24.2% of CPH and 21.1% of KCA Gold Tag calves classified as sick, were treated only once for morbidity. Of the Sale Barn calves that were taken to the hospital pen, 66.7% were treated two or more Times. These cattle developed more serious cases of BRD and required additional medication beyond the antibiotic treatment. In addition, mortality rates were 0%, 1.1% and 10.2% for the CPH, KCA Gold Tag and Sale Barn groups, respectively. Calves sold as realizers because of chronic illness represented 1.0%, 0% and 10.2% of the CPH, KCA Gold Tag and Sale Barn groups, respectively. Least-squares means for all variables except average daily gain (ADG) and weight #2 (W2) were calculated by including all animals placed on feed in this study ("included" -1) and by excluding all dead and realizer cattle ("not included" - NI). Least-squares means for actual net return (ACTNET-I) were $-22.01, $-4.96 and $-50.18/hd for the CPH, KCA Gold Tag and Sale Barn groups, respectively. Applying equal purchase prices to the cattle and calculating net return (ADJNET-I), least-squares means were $-4.61, $-5.75 and $-68.17/hd for the CPH, KCA Gold Tag and Sale Barn groups, respectively. There was no significant difference in ADJNET-I for the CPH and KCA Gold Tag cattle; however, both of these groups had a significantly higher ADJNET than the Sale Barn cattle. MEDNET-I costs were $8.78, $9.30 and $10.95/hd for the CPH, KCA Gold Tag and Sale Barn calves, respectively. The Sale Barn group had the highest MEDNET-I (P < .05). Value of cattle was determined using Cattle-Fax feeder calf prices for the week of March 13, 1998, basis Colorado (week in which cattle were re-implanted, representing approximately 90 days of ownership). The CPH and KCA Gold Tag cattle had a higher VALUE-I ($/hd) than the Sale Barn cattle (P < .05). There was no statistical difference in average daily gain (ADG) among the groups. Least-squares means categorized by hospital designation indicated that calves from both hosp 0 and hosp 1 had in higher net returns than calves from hosp 2+ (P < .05). In addition, calves from hosp 0 or hosp 1 had a higher value than those calves treated two or more times (P < .05). ADG was significantly higher for calves designated as hosp 0 or hosp 1 than calves designated as hosp 2. Least-squares means relative to the VAC Program by hospital designation interaction showed that cattle that remained healthy during the feeding phase had positive values for net return, indicating a profit. Sale Barn cattle treated two or more times for BRD had the lowest net return and the highest medical costs (P < .05). ADJNET-NI for KCA Gold Tag and Sale Barn cattle increased with one trip to the hospital pen. In addition, ADG and W2 also increased for the hosp 1 group of KCA Gold Tag and Sale Barn cattle. This trend indicates that some cattle from these two treatment groups were not identified as "sick" in the feedyard and did not receive treatment for BRD. However, ADJNET-I and ADJNET-NI for the CPH cattle actually decreased with trips to the hospital pen. This decrease in net return for the hosp 1 and hosp 2+ groups indicates that sick cattle were treated accordingly in this pen. ADJNET-NI for CPH/hosp 2+ cattle was the lowest of all interactions (P < .05). The CPH cattle that remained healthy in this study were the most profitable and had the highest value when compared to the other groups. Results from this study indicate that VAC Programs did improve the health status of cattle. Both the CPH and KCA Gold Tag groups had higher average net returns when purchased at comparable prices, lower average net medical costs and lower morbidity and mortality rates when compared to the Sale Barn group. Results from this study support the theory that some vaccination against BRD is better than no vaccination at all. However, proper management prior to weaning and transport is the key to reducing stress and decreasing the incidence of BRD.


Agriculture | Animal Sciences