Managing stress factors after stocker calves arrive on the farm is a crucial step in preventing or limiting calf mortality and improving profit potential.
Some factors are beyond operators’ control— weaning stress, exposure to pathogens, handling and management, marketing and transportation prior to purchase and arrival. But stressors associated with adapting to their new environment, co-mingling, nutrition, handling and processing can be addressed post-arrival by the owner and others tending to the calves.
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“We have some of the best vaccines and technology available to us, but the mortality number has continued to rise” said Ted McCollum, AgriLife Extension beef cattle specialist in Amarillo. “Health is the first management challenge faced by stocker cattle producers.”
Stocker calf health has always been a critical issue, McCollum said, but the challenge has increased over the years and producers may need to beef up their management plans. Restriction on some of the tools used to manage calf health, antibiotics, for instance, face growing restrictions. But McCollum encourages operators to employ management techniques that reduce stocker calf mortality.