by Ben J. Character, DVM
As fall approaches, many spring calves will be nearing weaning. Weaning time is an excellent time to process your calves while they are up.
Calf processing can consist of many things. The standard items include deworming, vaccinating, and
tagging. Other things that can be done during this time are castrations, dehorning, growth implants, and acclimating grain feed and water troughs.
Vaccinated calves generally have less sickness after transport from the farm to be fed out. The stress of
shipping can leave the calf vulnerable to many viruses which open the door for deadly bacterial pneumonia.
Dehorned calves take up less bunk space, and there is less meat and hide damage from fighting with the horns. Castrated calves tend to fight less, gain weight more quickly, and are generally easier to handle.
Most calves that are directly weaned and shipped lose several pounds of body weight during the first week or so at the feed yard. This is because they are not used to eating or drinking from a trough.
Implanted calves will benefit from the hormones and gain more weight than non-implanted calves. This generally results in an increased profit of 2-3 times the cost of the implant.