Beef Industry Jargon


To determine what common language beef producers use for the period of building the health status of a feeder calf prior to sale for purposes of public relations communications.

Early Findings

Preliminary research indicates that preconditioning is the name of a formalized weaning period for calves prior to sending them to market. While there are several processes that encompass preconditioning, the three terms that are most commonly associated with preconditioning are "weaning," "acclimation," and "bunk broke."
  • "Preconditioning" is a general term for a variety of procedures that are conducted prior to calves going to a feedlot.
  • The procedures include "weaning, vaccinations, dehorning, castration, and starting calves on a high energy diet."
  • According to the University of Nebraska's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, calves are referred to as being "bunk broke" during the period of preconditioning, which is the process of getting the calves "acclimated to a dry feed diet."
  • Essentially, "bunk broke" is the term for teaching "calves to eat and drink from bunks and waterers."
  • Drovers, the "nation's oldest livestock publication", uses "weaning" and "preconditioning" interchangeably: "The first step in developing a preconditioning or weaning program should be to consult with your veterinarian under a Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR)."
  • The University of Alaska Division of Agriculture Research & Extension also refers to the preconditioning process as a 45- to 60-day weaning period: "The process usually consists of weaning calves at least 45 days prior to sale, although the largest financial return has been observed for producers who wean their calves 60 or more days prior to sale."
  • However, weaning can apparently occur without preconditioning, so preconditioning actually refers to weaning calves for "45 days with a vaccination protocol."
  • In fact, according to Drovers, "a calf that is vaccinated on the ranch and weaned in the trailer on the way to the sale barn is a vaccinated calf, not a preconditioned calf," therefore, preconditioning is a process that includes both weaning and vaccinations, but also includes an introduction to commercial feed and possibly dehorning and castration.
  • Preconditioning is also referred to as "the acclimation phase", during which the calves are prepared to "leave the home farm or ranch in route to the feedlot." They are also introduced to commercial feed and weaned from milk.

Proposed next steps:

You need to be the project owner to select a next step.