As the fall receiving period approaches, IowaStateUniversity veterinarians Shaun Sweiger and Terry Engleken offer these tips for getting calves of to a good start in the feedlot.

Sweiger and Engleken refer to the “R” equation – Rest + Rehydration + Replenishment = Response. If we expect the cattle to respond to the products we administer, the veterinarians say, we must first make sure we have addressed the above issues adequately. Ask yourself whether cattle have access to fresh, clean water and fresh, palatable feed.   Have the cattle had adequate rest or the opportunity to recover from the stresses of transport and weaning? How much rest do they need?

Many of the diseases we vaccinate against have very similar incubation time frames to the time it takes for our vaccine to create protection, they note. This becomes even more complicated when we take into consideration the source of the cattle, their length of time in transit, and their level of stress. For these reasons, the veterinarians recommend letting the cattle dictate the timing. Process new arrivals after they have had the opportunity to lie down and rest, get up and eat and drink, and appear “settled.” Pay attention and observe their movements and behavior – they will let you know when they are ready. This rest time will be typically 12 to 36 hours.

During this “observation” period, you will also have a better opportunity to properly assess or classify the level of health risk and identify any individuals with preexisting sickness or injuries. These individuals often get overlooked during unloading or arrival because when an animal is stressed, it will do an incredible job of hiding a problem due to the “prey” instinct.

Once you have fully assessed the cattle, it’s time to decide which products to administer. The best resource for these decisions is your veterinarian, who has a great understanding of the products and what disease concerns are in your area.

Important considerations for feedlot receiving protocols would include:

  • Modified-live viral (MLV) products containing IBR, BVD (Types 1 & 2), PI3, BRSV, blackleg vaccines
  • Dewormer
  • Implant
  • Identification

Your veterinarian would also be your best source of information as it relates to metaphylaxis, revaccination, and treatment options. These options will vary based on cattle characteristics, your cattle handling facilities, and hospital design. However, if we expect the health program to work effectively we can’t forget the animal husbandry issues. Consider all of these factors when designing your receiving program in order to optimize animal health.