Why do Farmers Precondition?

14225621_10209542843121644_7296698390012844330_nFirst and foremost, I would like to give a shout out to my mom! Happy Happy Birthday!! This weekend was full of fun and laughter. I truly feel blessed to have such amazing people around me.

Part of the crazy exciting weekend was spent down on the farm! I was feeling very cattle deprived so spending a morning getting dirty couldn’t have gone any better!

On Saturday we took our weaned calves to the veterinarians office to be preconditioned.


The definition of precondition is “the preparation of 4 to 8 months old, recently weaned beef calves for entry into a feedlot. Includes castration, dehorning and all vaccinations before sale or entry to the feedlot.” 


The morning began at 6:30 am. We rounded up all of the cows and calves to be sorted. Once the calves were weaned (separated and switched to grain and/or grass diet) we let the cows out to a new pasture and hauled the calves to the vet’s office.


Jessica (our vet) began vaccinating and pouring (prevention of lice and grub) the calves while we kept track of records, directed calves into the chute, and assisted with gates. Proof of vaccinations are determined by a green tag in the calves ear. Green tags require vaccinations for 7 different diseases but only 2 shots are given. 1 of the 2 vaccinations cover 7 other diseases. It is important to prevent cattle from getting sick and stressed before they enter the feedlot system.


Green tags also require calves to be castrated and dehorned.

Castrated: turning a bull into a steer (a non-reproductive male) is a mandatory action due to the high levels of testosterone in bulls. Steers are less likely to be aggressive towards humans and towards one another. Dehorning is the process of removing horns from the calf’s head. Removing horns helps by once again decreasing the risk for humans but predominantly by protecting the calves from hurting one another.

We choose to band (similar to castrating but a rubber band is used to cut off circulation) at birth. Every farm is different but we find it to have less risk of infection, less stress, and faster healing rates.


After all of the calves were preconditioned- we made the trek back home and made the calves comfortable in their new pen. We will feed the weaned calves for a little over a month before selling.

We are hoping to sell a few of the calves for showing. If you are interested please message me! All of the calves are bred from a Simmental bull.


Farmers precondition calves to protect the health of the calves and humans.

For more information on Green Tags:


3 thoughts on “Why do Farmers Precondition?

  1. Hi Morgan-
    I was reading your proposal blog (CONGRATULATIONS!) and saw that you had written last year about preconditioning calves. I work for the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association and we administer the PC program along with the Iowa Cattlemen. All the PC tags and certificates are sent out of our office in Ankeny to Iowa veterinarians. You did a good job explaining the program! We have been working on educating producers on the difference between preconditioning, green tag and gold tag. Many (including some veterinarians!) use the terms interchangeably and it is confusing. I helped design a poster to hang in the sale barns to explain the difference. Let me know if you want to see it and I can email it to you.

    That’s all – just thought I’d share the connection! Say “Hi” to your dad!



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