Calves in a group pen Photo:vonDeylen

Respiratory diseases are a major problem in US feedlots. In order to improve the health of the animals and thus avoid animal and financial losses, so-called preconditioning programmes are a possibility. These programmes usually include vaccination of the calves against respiratory diseases, whereby vaccinations are usually given on the day of weaning as well as 30 days later on the day the animals enter the feedlot. However, as weaning and the introduction into the feedlot are stressful events for the animals, the efficacy of the vaccination can be reduced.

In order to space out the vaccinations from the above-mentioned stressful situations, an attempt was made to postpone the vaccination. Either the first vaccination took place 15 days before weaning or 15 days after. Similarly, the second vaccination is given either 15 days before housing in the feedlot or 15 days after housing in the feedlot.

After evaluating various parameters on the health status and performance of the animals, the authors concluded that the calves vaccinated before weaning and before transfer had more antibodies against respiratory diseases due to the time elapsed between vaccination and entry into the feedlot and thus achieved a better start and better performance in fattening.

The important significance of early vaccination before transport to fattening has also been recognized by the farmer in the following video. In this good practice from Ireland (Using a sourcing and animal health protocol to reduce health and welfare issues on a bull beef fatterning unit in ireland.) the farmer reports about his health protocol with first vaccinate than transport the animals. 


  • Socio-economic resilience: Better average daily weight gain due to less BRD infections is beneficial to profitability
  • Animal health and welfare: The vaccination already before the transfer leads to a better immunity or to the fact that at the decisive time an immunity already exists
  • Production efficiency and meat quality: Avoiding the "usual" collapse of BRD at the beginning of fattening leads to better gains of the animals