feeder calves purchased from sale barn

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Chickadee_42us, Feb 6, 2004.

  1. Chickadee_42us

    Chickadee_42us Well-Known Member

    Jan 24, 2003
    North Central, Texas
    New to this buy/sell calving operation and have question regarding health of calves.
    We purchase calves approximately 5-8 months and weighing between 200-350 lbs keep them for about six months and resell.
    The last two sets have became sick after purchasing and being on our place after about two weeks with flu signs, (vet diagnosed), and we lost a few last purchase because of this and I want to try to prevent future loss if possible. Do flu outbreaks spread through sell barns or is this something this age bracket has to go through? Should we be innoculating (innoculate with what) these immediately after purchase or more basically... what should the method be when purchasing feeder calves within their entire health care?
    We do keep them separated from other stock; keep them watered and fed within a smaller pasture allotment until they adjust to new environment.
    Befuddled and any help is going to be appreciated.
  2. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

    Aug 13, 2003
    Vaccinations are very important, especially with sale barns involved!

    If possible, bypass the barn. Buy from the farm if you can. That way the calves aren't exposed to whatever nastiness is going around in the sale barn. Your best bet is to find a producer who has already given them all their shots, castrated them and kept them weaned for a month or so. I'm one of those, but I don't know where you live and I just sold all my calves yesterday!

    Next best is to buy calves who have already had their shots. There are many different "health" programs out there...here in Illinois we have the green/white tag sales, Merial has one...I can't remember the name of it. Calves that are complying with the health program should have been cut/banded, had all the appropriate shots and been weaned at least 30 days. Check with your sale barn about if they have a special sale or if they know who's raising calves in the health programs. Expect to pay $15-25/cwt more for them, but it's worth it. A dead calf mean zero dollars.

    Third possibility is to have the vaccinated at the barn. Ours does that, saves a vet call later. Check with a vet in your area, but here we vaccinate with a 4-way, 7-way clostridal and sometimes a pasturella vaccine (which I would reccommend coming from the sale barn). While you are at it, have them ivomec them too. You will have to give a booster shot in 4-6 weeks after the first round.

    Once you get them home, watch for any and every little sign of illness and jump on it. I can write a whole other post on sick calves, so if you need the info, let me know!


  3. Razorback21

    Razorback21 Well-Known Member

    May 13, 2003
    Southern Illinois
    I buy feeders and bucket calves both ways, from the private individual and from the sale barn and I do the exact same thing in each situation: I walk the pens, look at what is for sale, make sure they look healthy, and ask questions if the owner of the animals is around. Getting their shots is an insurance policy you are going to want to have, especially if you are a sundown farmer like I am. Castrating the bull calves at the sale barn is a good idea as well. Either way, look closely at what your buying and even if you don't know all the signs of a sick calf, the more you do it, the more you ask questions, the better you'll get at it. Good luck and have fun with it!

  4. Jackpine Savage

    Jackpine Savage Well-Known Member

    Jul 3, 2002
    Central MN
    I've read some on this subject but no personal experience so FWIW.......

    Problems of this nature are generally referred to as 'shipping fever'. If you do some internet searches you'll find lots of info. From what I've read vacinations play a important role as well as reducing stress as much as possible. I've read articles by Bud Williams concerning how to handle newly recieved cattle, some interesting stuff. Mostly making sure they find water and food. Here's a link that may have some useful information:


    I think having some VERY good quality hay that they can't resist eating would be a good idea.
  5. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

    May 11, 2002
    I agree this sounds like shipping fever. You might consider leaving the calves overnight at the sales barn in order to get use to each other and to settle down. An extra trip by you, but then what does one sick or lost calf cost? If you don't have handling facilities, the next day the stockyard personnel will have the time to help you work them. Some do it for free, some for a slight charge. Even if free, it the guys are helpful slip the boss a $20 and tell him to buy beer for the guys (or gals).

    Ken S. in WC TN
  6. Unk

    Unk Guest

    Shipping fever can happen anytime of the year, but cold weather is hard on the cattle who are stressed very badly anyway. Some sale barn stock has been shuffled from one barn to another for several days..
    All the barns in this area have a licensed Vet on duty at the barn on sale day.. When the buyers get the winning bid, they tell the clerks sitting with the auctionneer what treatment they want the Vet to preform on their newly purchased stock.. It could be LA 200 for respitory problems, or wormer, either shot or pour on type. Casterated - either cut or clamped. Dehorned, or nip the points off te horns. Whatever you feel you want them to have can be given before they leave the barn.. These Vets charge very little compared to having your vet do it at home.. Every calf I ever buy gets LA 200 and wormed on the spot.