Capitalize on Strong Cattle Markets with Quality Weaning Nutrition

Management : Cow & Calf

Management : Weaned Calf

Nutrition : Supplements

Ron Scott, Ph.D.

Director, Beef Technical Innovation

During strong cattle markets, calves are sometimes taken straight off the cows and “weaned on the truck” to be marketed as soon as possible. But you’re likely leaving money on the table by not giving those calves a healthy start with weaning fueled by quality nutrition.

When cattle markets are strong, it is an especially good time to utilize a thorough weaning program because you can add a lot of value to your calves.

Buyers are willing to pay a premium for calves that have been preconditioned. Data from Superior Livestock Auction sales in 2022 show a $8.64/cwt to $18.67/cwt premium for calves that were weaned for at least 45 days.1

A vital way to ensure success during weaning is to provide high-quality cattle nutrition.

Reduced stress

Weaning can be a stressful time for calves. During this time, calves need a balanced nutrition program to help their immune system keep up.

If calves don’t get some feed into them, their body will get behind on fighting stress and health challenges can occur. 

To help address the challenges of supporting a healthy immune system while reducing stress at weaning, Purina Animal Nutrition researched, developed and launched a proprietary additive known as RX3® Immune Support Technology in 2019. RX3® Immune Support Technology is a unique, non-medicated feed additive found exclusively in Purina® starter feeds.2  The feed additive contains a powerful combination of very specific prebiotics, probiotics and plant extracts that help address common, costly calf health challenges head-on.

Optimized performance

Feeding high-quality nutrition during weaning can also optimize calf performance.

It goes above and beyond just providing a balanced diet for protein, energy and roughage. There are also vitamins and minerals necessary to deal with stress to help keep calves performing. And with RX3® Immune Support Technology, you’re getting even more.

The addition of RX3® Immune Support Technology in starter feeds through multiple third-party research studies resulted in calves that: 3,4
  • Gained more weight on an average daily gain basis
  • Had less variation in average daily gain compared to control calves
  • Had improved feed-to-gain ratio, resulting in better utilization of feedstuffs

Calves ate more feed and gained more weight than you would expect, so we have this improvement in feed conversion. That's really important.

A combination of more time at the bunk equals less stress and greater feed intake. Because of that combination, the calves have gained weight more efficiently.

Immunity with the 3 Rs

Priming calves’ immune systems is key to ensuring they have optimized health during and after weaning.
RX3® Immune Support Technology gets its name from its groundbreaking ability to help calves’ immune system:
  • Recognize sooner
  • Respond more appropriately
  • Return to optimal health more quickly

When the immune system is primed, the body can understand when a health challenge is occurring. You want calves to be able to respond quickly so they can fight off disease.

The combination of healthy calves with sound nutrition and management allows calves to express their full genetic potential. Capitalize on strong cattle markets by giving your calves the best start possible.

Visit or contact your local Purina® dealer to learn how starter feeds can help optimize your calf weaning program.

Related Articles:

Create a Calf Health and Marketing Edge
Weaning Calves? Tips to Get Them Eating Quickly
Weaning Calves? Avoid These 3 Common Pitfalls
Weighing the Pros and Cons of 5 Common Calf Weaning Approaches
1 Raper K. and Peel D. 2023. Strong Premiums for Oklahoma Quality Beef Network Cattle in 2022. Cow-Calf Corner. March 6, 2023.
2 RX3® Immune Support Technology® is not a medication, so no Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) is required. Medicated Purina® starter complete and supplement feeds are still available and require a VFD.
3 Idowu M., Taiwo G., Cervantes A., Bowdridge S. and Ogunade I. 2022. Effects of a multicomponent microbial feed additive containing prebiotics and probiotics on health, immune status, metabolism, and performance of newly weaned beef steers during a 35-d receiving period. West Virginia University. American Society of Animal Science.
4 Summary of Purina studies CG131, CG153, CG165 CG171 and PMI studies at University of Minnesota and North Dakota State University.