How to think about replacing the lean ox for confinement?

VFL confinement

The essential truth of all is “without replacement, there is no confinement,” and, to make a profit, you need to buy your replacement well. So you should see this video!

We have been addressing the subject “Replacement” for a few days, see the article Replacement: Window of opportunity closing. We know that the end of the waters means for most ranchers, the moment to start confinement. More than the appropriate time to analyze the lean ox’s replacement, we are talking about the main cast of a feedlot and its relationship with profitability.

With the market steady and prices rising, we need to find strategies that can guarantee a higher profit margin for our confinement, right? To answer this question, we asked Alberto Pessina , CEO of 

For those who do not know, the Livestock Decision is a tool capable of helping in the decision making of your farm, whether in the purchase and sale of animals and/or inputs. It was developed to make life easier for the producer who wants to maximize his profit, working with market analysis and consulting with one of the leading specialists in the agricultural market.

The market for lean beef is rising; that is, the price has gone up, and the producer has already felt it in his pocket. However, according to Pessina, the value is still lower when compared to previous years. “As shown in the video, we have a value below what was achieved in the years 2015 and 2016, for the same period of the year when values ​​of R $ 177.58 and R $ 172.71 were reached, respectively “.

When we analyze the graph below, we notice that the beef ox market shows a seasonality that accompanies the market of fat cattle. A tip for the cattle rancher, the graph shows that the months of July and August, generally, have the lowest prices in the lean beef market, which can be a great opportunity to buy these animals,” emphasizes Pessina.

Do different scenarios in the country challenge confiners?

Boitel VFL Brasil Confinement

Meat consumption are factors that must be taken into account.

Our articles have mainly addressed the issue of the replacement window and the lean beef market. 

When we analyze Brazil’s markets, São Paulo stands out due to the high price of the arroba and the exchange ratio between the ox and corn. That favored and maintained an optimistic scenario for confiners. This scenario, however, did not materialize in other regions. You can find more details in the exclusive video below.

With the market steady and prices rising, we need to find strategies that can guarantee a higher profit margin for our confinement, right? To answer this question, we asked Alberto Pessina, CEO of Agromove and creator of Decision Livestock, to illustrate these scenarios to help in our decision making.

The price of inputs in most regions is below average when we compare their representativeness in a fat ox’s revenue. The feed’s cost represents something close to 22% of the revenue obtained with an 18 @ fat ox. This proportion is within the average of the last ten years, which varies from 20% to 24%, depending on the region. Those who did not despair about the high corn between January and February and followed the Livestock Decision set up better relations than this.

Newborn calves: 5 vital cares to decrease the mortality rate in herds

The success of the entire livestock production system, whether dairy or beef, depends directly on obtaining low mortality rates and morbidity in the breeding phase. Therefore, the first days of the animal’s life are the most critical of this whole process. And because of this, some precautions are essential for newborn calves to gain immunity, not to become malnourished, and not even have infections.

You, the rural producer, must know very well that when this process is successful, it influences your property’s positive result. After all, it is not only the correct handling of newborn calves, but this procedure must begin even before birth, from feeding and vaccinating pregnant cows to providing specific areas for them to give birth.

Cows must calve in the so-called maternity paddocks, a separate, clean, dry place with adequate shade. This location can help ensure:

  • the health of the female and her calf;
  • adequate conditions for the development of the fetus;
  • decrease in future losses due to management errors during pregnancy;
  • decreased risk of embryonic resorption, abortion, death of the offspring, or matrix.

It is essential to pay special attention to animals’ health, especially in the first 60 days of life. The development of future dairy cows or calves depends essentially on this stage. Also, losses at this stage are hardly recovered. In other words, if you don’t take care of it, it is an inevitable loss for you, the rural producer.

Many producers still have doubts about the ideal time to cure the navel, carry out medicines, and avoid the leading diseases in newborn calves. If you also have them, you will be able to solve them in this post. Come on!

# 1 Colostrum ingestion: the first step for newborn calves to gain immunity

newborn calves

Colostrum has a high nutritional value and should be the first food to be consumed in the first hours of life. But, the cow’s udder must be clean for this first feed.

Indeed, it can be considered as the first “vaccine” that the animal receives. Mainly because in cattle, the immunity of the mother to the child hardly happens via the placenta. The calf is born practically unprotected and free of antibodies, so it must ingest it in the right quantity and as soon as possible.

To illustrate, colostrum, especially from the first feed, is five times richer in protein than regular milk, which is low in lactose and fats. Furthermore, it is abundant in vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and has a slightly laxative action. So, the animals that have just been born depend on colostrum to acquire resistance to the diseases that can affect them.

The antibodies absorbed by calves in the first 12 hours of life, through colostrum, remain in their blood circulation on average until the 4th month of life, by which time they are already able to produce their defense cells. At this stage, passive antibodies (absorbed via colostrum) are eliminated and exchanged for those produced by the animal itself.

It is essential to clarify that when calves are born, they should not eat any food or even water before colostrum. Because the small intestine of the animal as soon as it is born is highly permeable, making it highly vulnerable to intestinal diseases before the ingestion of colostrum. In addition to the mouth, the main gateway for infections is the navel. So, to prevent contamination, some care is necessary. Check out a little more about the next topic!

# 2 The importance of navel healing in newborn calves

The umbilicus must be healed immediately after the colostrum is fed and daily until its 5th day of life. This is because newborn calves have an unhealed portion of the navel exposed. That way, if not correctly cared for, it can be a gateway to infections and bugs.

The best way to correct the animal’s navel healing is to cut it from 2 to 3 fingers below its insertion. That is, cutting is not necessary if the navel is smaller than this. The alcoholic iodine solution, with a concentration between 7% and 10%, must be used to disinfect the remaining portion. This procedure must be repeated at least twice a day until complete dehydration and fall occur.

This is a simple procedure, but very important. It prevents the entry and multiplication of microorganisms responsible for omphalophlebitis, commonly known as “navel inflammation,” a prevalent disease in newborn calves, causing several sequels and affecting several organs.

# 3 Deworming and vaccination

All calves must be dewormed at two, four, and six months of age. And after weaning, the animals must enter the strategic deworming program adopted on the property.

The vaccination protocol will be passed by the veterinarian and must be followed strictly. Vaccines to be administered to young calves include:

  • rabies, from 4 months, with annual reinforcement;
  • foot-and-mouth disease, applied to calves aged 3 to 6 months;
  • brucellosis, only females between the 5th and 8th month of life;
  • symptomatic carbuncle, 4 months old and repeated every 6 months until the calf turns 2 years old.

Other vaccines are applied only in specific situations, in which the veterinarian evaluates case by case. Among them we can highlight:

  • parasite, two doses at 15 and 45 days of life;
  • leptospirosis, after 2 months of life, with reinforcement after 6 months;
  • botulism, 2 months old and after 4 or 6 weeks after the first dosage.

# 4 Attention to cleanliness

A critical point in the care of newborn calves is cleaning. That is, any system of raising calves must have hygiene as a fundamental concern. That is, the animals must be housed in a clean, dry, and well-ventilated place, but without drafts.

Utensils, such as baby bottles and buckets, also need to be thoroughly cleaned. Because milk is a great culture medium and, thus, they are subject to carry a large number of microorganisms. On the other hand, the troughs must be cleaned daily to prevent spoilage and fermentation of the feed.

# 5 Balanced power

Finally, but not least is the food. Both during the cow’s gestation period, because the colostrum produced will be nutritious enough, presenting high levels of antibodies needed by the calf and after calving. The calf must receive a balanced diet composed of milk, concentrated foods, hay, and grass.

By investing in good quality food, you, the rural producer, will guarantee a healthy and quality herd. Not to mention that it can help prevent some common diseases. See below what they are and how to avoid them.

Most common diseases in newborn calves


Diarrhea in calves is caused by various infectious agents like bacteria, viruses, and protozoa infection. It can result from the combination of the animal’s low immunity, contact with infectious agents, and the inappropriate environment. It is a major cause of animal loss.

Animals with diarrhea may show the following clinical signs:

  • apathy;
  • tail raised;
  • pasty stools;
  • loss of appetite;
  • dry mouths and snouts;
  • fast weight loss.

Simple measures, such as keeping the environment clean and sanitized, supplying colostrum correctly, and preventing calves’ overcrowding, prevent disease.


It is a multifactorial disease caused by the interaction of one or more microorganisms with stressful conditions. Its manifestation can be subclinical to acute and fatal. Much of the onset of the disease occurs when the calf is between 6 and 8 weeks old.

The main clinical signs of pneumonia are:

  • diarrhea;
  • weakness;
  • High fever;
  • catarrhal secretions;
  • breathing difficulty.

To prevent pneumonia, it is essential that calves are clean, comfortable, and protected from weather conditions. Also, the intake of colostrum is essential for its prevention. Another way to avoid it is with vaccines that act against its causative agents.

Bovine parasitic sadness

It is a disease transmitted by ticks or blood-sucking insects. Animals with low resistance, such as calves in their first months of life, are more susceptible to developing the disease.

Main signs of the disease:

  • fever;
  • anemia;
  • dehydration;
  • panting;
  • dark urine (similar to blood).

The primary measure to avoid parasitic sadness is to carry out reasonable control of ticks.


It is an inflammatory process of the umbilical vein, caused by the incorrect healing of the newborn calf’s navel. This infection causes omphalitis, which prevents healing. Thus, the navel channel remains open and facilitates the entry of microorganisms into the animal’s body.

Among the main signs of this disease, we can highlight abdominal pain and enlarged navel. Then, the condition can generate hepatitis, peritonitis, or liver abscess.

To avoid this inflammatory process, it is essential to correctly cure the navel, with disinfection with recommended products such as iodine solution.

As you have seen several problems with your cattle herd, they can be avoided and quickly, if you are prepared!

But, many breeders still have significant losses for not having on their property someone who acts correctly in emergency cases. Are you prepared to act in case of accidents with a bovine? Click on the image below, and don’t miss any more animals in your herd!

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