May 3, 2016
By Kevin Hill, D.V.M.
This post is the second in a series that looks at decisions you can make now that will not only improve the health of your calves, but also will add significant value.
With cattle inventories up, it will be increasingly important to differentiate your calves from “average” calves so that they will earn premium prices at sale time. In the previous post, we looked at the value of preconditioning programs, and the Superior Livestock Auction data that showed buyers consistently pay more for weaned and preconditioned calves.
Testing calves for persistent infection (PI) from bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) – a costly respiratory and reproductive disease – should be another consideration to add value. Data from cattle marketed through Superior Livestock Auctions in 2015 showed an average premium of $2.42 per hundredweight for calves identified as BVD-PI free.
Because of the small number of lots that were PI tested, this value was not statistically different than non-PI tested calves, but it does send the signal that buyers are aware of the health benefits of BVD-PI free calves. If this trend continues to develop, a 600-pound calf could earn an average premium of $14.52 per head. After subtracting the cost of testing, producers could net $10-12 per head.
Not only does PI testing benefit the health of the purchasing feedlot and likely be a premium that you can pocket, this diagnostic test is an important biosecurity step that will enhance the protection of your cow/calf herd against BVD. If you’re interested in learning more about BVD or PI testing, contact your veterinarian.