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Veterinarian View | September 2022

The Iowa Green Tag and Gold Tag Programs

contributed article by Dr. Vince Collison, Collison Embryo | Collison Veterinary Services, Rockwell City, Iowa

Preconditioning protocols for any cattle producer.

In the last article, I talked about preconditioning prior to weaning in order to optimize the health of the calves. I did mention some details that would be necessary for the calves to be gold tagged. Even though the Green Tag and Gold Tag programs are an Iowa based program, they serve as a blueprint for a sound preconditioning program for cattle producers from any state. The program was started in 1965 by the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association with input from the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. Changes have occurred over the years, evolving to the two current Green Tag and Gold Tag programs.

Green Tag Program

For a Green Tag program, the calves need to be at least 4 months old at the time they are administered the vaccines and treatments for internal and external parasites. Required vaccines are a 5-way viral vaccine for IBR, BVD, PI3, and BRSV. Also required are vaccines for Mannheimia hemolytica, Histophilus somnus, and the 7-way Clostridial complex. Parasite treatments for both internal and external parasites are also required. These have to be provided and administered by the veterinarian as they will have to sign and verify that these procedures have been done and vaccine has been handled properly.

Castrations and dehorning are also required and can be performed at any time from birth onward. These can be performed by the owner or veterinarian, but the veterinarian will be required to examine all calves to verify they are castrated and dehorned at the time the green tag is inserted in the calf’s left ear. All of these procedures need to be performed at least 21 days prior to the sale of the calves.

Other procedures that can be performed that are optional include implants, BVD testing, other additional vaccinations not required for a Green Tag, or vaccine given before 4 months of age. There is a place to list these optional procedures on the preconditioning certificate if performed.

In addition, the calves will need to be weaned and bunk broke to a ration for at least 30 days prior to the sale. Also, calves must be owned at least 60 days prior to the sale as well. All of this needs to occur before a preconditioning certificate can be issued and signed by the veterinarian and the owner/agent of the calves.

On occasion, we will have a producer that has had the processing done and a green tag has been applied, yet they want to sell without weaning. In this case, we will write up a certificate from the clinic describing the work we have done to the calves and state for instance that they have not been weaned. This is not an official certificate, and the calves are not considered fully preconditioned. In this case, the calves will sell as green tagged, but not preconditioned. Most of the sales in Iowa are preconditioning sales in the fall and usually these calves will sell after calves that have been issued the official Iowa Preconditioning Certificate.

Gold Tag Program

For a calf to receive a Gold Tag, they will need to be at least 4 months old and receive the same vaccinations, parasite treatments, and castration/dehorn procedures as the Green Tag. In addition, they will need to be booster vaccinated for IBR, BVD, PI3 and BRSV, Mannheimia hemolytica, Histophilus somnus, and the 7-way Clostridial complex. There needs to be at least a 14-day waiting period before these booster vaccinations can be given. The actual gold tag will be applied at the time booster vaccinations are given.

One vaccine requirement that is different for the Gold Tag is that both rounds of the 5-way viral vaccine need to be modified live. So, while the 5-way vaccine given for the Green Tag can be killed or modified live, a producer may want to use a modified live if they think they may want to Gold Tag their set of calves later. The modified live requirement was recently implemented due to input from the actual buyers of preconditioned calves. On the Gold Tag program calves can be sold 14 days after the booster vaccinations.

Castration/dehorning needs to be at least 21 days prior to the sale. Also, the time for being weaned and bunk broke to a ration prior to selling is extended to 60 days for gold tagged calves, as well as ownership for 60 days. If all of this is done, an official Iowa Gold Tag Preconditioning Certificate can be issued. While it is preferable to perform these vaccinations 14 to 21 days prior to weaning, it is not a requirement as long as all of the procedures fall into the guidelines listed above.

Reselling Green Tagged Calves

Also, we will get producers who want to resell green tagged calves they have bought as preconditioned green tagged calves. This is possible only if the new owner has the preconditioning certificate and the veterinarian verifies the green tag numbers listed on the certificate. In addition, the new owner has to own the calves for 60 days prior to selling.

Upgrading From Green to Gold

We also get some producers who buy green tagged calves and then want to have them gold tagged. This is possible if the calves also have the original preconditioning certificate, and the tags are verified. The second round of booster vaccinations can be given, and the new owner will also have to own these calves for 60 days prior to sale as well. If a producer buys calves that have a green tag and no official preconditioning certificate, they will have to go through the entire program of vaccinations, parasite treatments, and verify castration/dehorning to be re-green tagged and qualify for a preconditioning certificate. These will have to be owned for 60 days prior to sale as well. New preconditioning certificates will be issued in these cases listing the new owner and signatures.

Success of the Program

The Iowa Green/Gold Tag Preconditioning program has been highly successful and widely adopted in Iowa. This program continues to add value for both the sellers and buyers of these calves. Any veterinarian who is a member of the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association can be involved with this program. Work with your herd veterinarian to implement this program in your herd and reap the benefits.

Dr. Vince Collison is co-owner of Collison Embryo | Collison Veterinary Services PAC

in Rockwell City, Iowa.

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