That’s not usually the advice you hear when talking about processing cattle, but getting stocker cattle out to pasture as soon as possible is one surefire way to reduce stress and illness. Having a source of cattle within a short distance of your operation can be a critical aspect to the success of this strategy.  Researchers from the Noble Foundation recommend that ideally it is best to get stocker calves out on grass the day of purchase; however, that may or may not be feasible for your operation. Getting cattle out on grass by day two should be an achievable goal for most stocker operators.

Additionally, procuring cattle that are fresh from a farm or ranch is also important to enhancing their long-term performance.

In addition to these strategies, researchers from the Noble Foundation in Ardmore, Okla., have also stressed that it is important to have a routine processing procedure that minimizes stress in how you handle cattle, as well as applying the appropriate treatments. While the Noble Foundation has put together a comprehensive guideline for receiving cattle, the researchers also note the importance of working with your consulting veterinarian.

Similar guidelines produced in an advisory from the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture also recommend that the initial processing of new calves should be done within 12 to 24 hours after arrival. According to Extension researchers Jeremy Powell and Tom Troxel, if calves had to travel a significant distance, it is better to let them rest for a period of time prior to processing, so the efficacy of your animal-health products is not affected. But they stress not waiting too long and to make sure that cattle are processed within 24 hours. Not doing so will hasten the development of respiratory disease and reduce the effectiveness of your processing program.

For more on routine processing procedures for stocker calves, read "Rapid Receiving and Pasturing of Stocker Cattle: Stress Control and Veterinary Practices"  from the Samuel Robers Noble Foundation  or "Stocker Cattle Management: Receiving Health Program" from the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.