3 Tips to Prepare for a Successful and Profitable Fall Run

FBN Network

Sep 26, 2023

Setting yourself up for a successful and profitable fall run can significantly benefit your operation. But there are several factors you'll need to consider, from the economic benefits to nutrition, to ensure your herd's safety and well-being. 

What Is Fall Run?

Fall run is the period when producers prepare to transition their herd from the ranch to feedlots or sales barns. This can be a stressful time for cattle, especially those susceptible to respiratory disease and nutrition-related illness, and often presents several challenges for livestock operations.  

What Is Preconditioning?

Preconditioning, which is the process of preparing calves to perform well in the feedlot, can help to reduce fall run health risks, give cattle a foundation to gain at faster rates and ultimately enhance their market value. Preconditioned calves have strengthened immune systems and can acclimate more smoothly than other calves to the stress of entering the feedlot, which can be triggered by learning to eat from a bunk, drinking from water tanks and learning to commingle with other calves in a new and unknown environment. 

A good preconditioning program takes a three-prong approach to set calves up for success in the feed yard during fall run. Producers should: 

  1. Plan a low stress, smooth handling process

  2. Prioritize herd health 

  3. Carefully manage nutrition and improve feed efficiency

3 Tips to Precondition Calves for Fall Run

1. Proactively Plan 

Producers must consider several factors to ensure a smooth livestock migration when prepping for fall run, including: 

  • Timing: When is the ideal time to initiate fall run based on weather patterns, forage availability and the condition of the animals?

  • Destination: Can suitable pastures or ranches nearby with adequate forage and water sources sustain the herd through the winter?

  • Infrastructure: Are fences, water troughs and shelter in the destination area? 

  • Transportation: Do you need to account for logistical considerations such as road conditions or permits to transport livestock?

  • Communication: Are any permits or agreements required to move livestock across different properties or jurisdictions? Have you informed landowners, neighbors or local authorities about your fall run plans?

  • Record-keeping: Do you have accurate identification and health records documentation to stay within regulatory compliance?

  • Contingency plans: Have you created a contingency plan for potential challenges, such as inclement weather, illness or accidents?

  • Adjusting plans: Is there anything you want to improve upon from recent years? For example, do you have enough hired help or do you need to make modifications for regions impacted by drought?

[Download the free 2023 FBN Fall Run Product Guide]

2. Prioritize Herd Health

Maintaining the health and wellness of cattle is always a priority, but it is especially critical during fall run when cattle are being exposed to new respiratory illnesses, increased stress levels and other health risks. Prepare for fall run by stocking up on essential animal health products ahead of time so you aren’t rushing to purchase vaccines, dewormers and implants and have them delivered after an outbreak occurs. 

When creating a proactive fall run health plan for your herd, consider the following:

  • Vaccinations: Ensure your herd is up-to-date with all necessary vaccinations to prevent common diseases and minimize the risk of illnesses like clostridium during this critical time. 

  • Parasite Control: Rotate pastures and practice good manure management to minimize parasite exposure during fall run. Implement a strategic deworming program to control parasites and prevent their negative impact.

  • Stress Management: Fall run can be stressful on cattle due to weaning, transportation and commingling with other animals. Gradually introduce new animals to the herd to minimize stress in a calm, low-stress environment. 

  • Environmental Conditions: Prepare facilities and pastures for changing weather conditions to ensure proper drainage to prevent mud and standing water, which can lead to hoof problems and disease. Provide adequate shelter and bedding to protect your herd from harsh weather elements.

Here are some popular products to consider for fall run:

3. Carefully Manage Nutrition and Improve Feed Efficiency

Managing nutrition and improving feed efficiency is top of mind for producers. Adding a feed program to your fall run strategy is essential for animals to receive adequate nutrition to prepare for winter, maintain health and optimize productivity. 

Here are a few strategies to consider:

  • Monitor Body Condition: Maintaining the right body condition score will ensure your animals maintain optimal weight. Adjust feed quantities accordingly to prevent overfeeding or underfeeding, improve feed efficiency and optimize overall productivity.

  • Evaluate Feed Quality: Based on your analysis, you may need to work with a nutritionist to adjust your feeding programs to ensure your animals receive a balanced ration with appropriate protein, energy, vitamins and mineral levels. 

  • Consider Feed Additives: Certain feed additives can enhance feed efficiency and nutrient utilization. For example, probiotics can improve gut health and nutrient absorption, while enzymes can enhance the breakdown of complex feed components. 

  • Provide Clean Water: Ensure that fresh water sources are regularly cleaned and available at all times to aid in digestion and ensure overall cattle health. 

[Explore FBN Feed Products]

The Economic Impact of Fall Run

The economic impact of fall run can vary based on market conditions, herd quality and regional demand. With increased market demand for livestock, producers often see a substantial cash influx during fall run. This helps cover operating expenses such as feed, labor and equipment maintenance. By selling animals, producers can avoid the expensive feeding and caring costs associated with overwintering by reducing overhead costs. 

Local economies often see the benefits of a successful fall run by supporting job creation and economic growth in rural communities. Increased livestock sales generate revenue for auction markets, transportation services, feed suppliers and other businesses involved in the ag sector.

Prepare for Fall Run with FBN Direct®

FBN Direct offers a broad range of vaccines, dewormers, implants and general animal health products for livestock producers. With convenient online purchasing options and fast, direct-to-farm delivery in three days or less, FBN Direct offers a seamless and streamlined purchasing experience for all your animal health supplies. 

Related Resources 

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FBN Network

Sep 26, 2023

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