Herd Health Increases Profits

Herd Health Increases Profits

Posted: Updated:

May 25, 2016

Story provided by Certified Angus Beef

Experts say with proper nutrition and a strict vaccination programs, producers can set their cow herd on a path towards added profit.  Mark Hilton, a veterinarian from Purdue University explains how investments in herd health bring real dollars back to the farm or ranch.

Bob Cervera with The Angus Report explains.

Health drives profit for cattle. Paired with the right nutrition, they can earn money on carcass merit. On the other hand, ignoring health plans can set up a series of unfortunate events.

Read more about Dr. Hilton's comments at Cattlemen's College at the Cattle Industry Convention in San Diego.

“My goal as a veterinarian," explains Hilton, "is to prevent that first domino from falling, not treat the calf as it’s falling off the cliff.”

Most recent data from Iowa’s Tri-County Steer Carcass Futurity shows calves treated for bovine respiratory disease are $111 behind those that never needed a shot. Add another treatment and that number goes $365 in the red.

“If a calf gets sick in the feedlot," says Hilton, "their data shows that the chances of that calf making a profit are very minimal. And in fact with the price increase that we’ve seen for fed cattle over the last 5-6 years those numbers are even greater."

The veterinary professor says it’s all the way back to when the calf is in utero, that the clock actually begins running.

"The feedlot is not the place to start the health program," says Hilton.  "It’s too late. If that’s the very first time that calf has somebody saying ‘we’re going to help you with your health for the rest of your life,’ we are too late.”

Cow nutrition, preconditioning, a balanced ration in yard at weaning – each carry success and dollars down the line and help eliminate sickness in a herd, which Hilton says is very possible.

“The goal should be zero sick animals every single year," says Hilton.  "Are we going to hit that every year, of course not. We are going to have a case of pink eye or foot rot, but I have herds that I’ve worked with for 18 years in Indiana, at Purdue, that have never had a calf scour, never had a case of calf scours.”

It’s a long-term goal, but those who commit to it year after year can find happy endings.

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