Preconditioning & Backgrounding Calculator

This calculator evaluates the economic opportunity from preconditioning by providing a summary of estimated net returns and projected breakeven price premiums of three different precondition programs.

More information is available in the Canfax Research Services fact sheet: Economic Considerations on Preconditioning Calves [English version | French version] (September 2015).

Preconditioning & Backgrounding Calculator

1. General Information

– Choose your region from the drop-down list.

– In the yellow cells, enter weaning date and weaning weight.

Weaning Date
Weaning Weight (lbs)
ADG from birth to weaning (lbs/day)
Days from birth to weaning
Weaning weight (lbs)

2. Selling at Weaning

– In the yellow cells – enter shrink% and your projection of calf price at the estimated marketing time.

– Gross revenue under traditional management will be calculated automatically.

Marketing Time
Marketing Weight (lbs)
Shrink (%)
Pay Weight (lbs)
Projected Price ($/cwt)
Traditional Gross Revenue ($/head)

3. Preconditioning/Backgrounding Program

Precondition/Backgrounding Program

– Check the box in green cell if use same animal performance and cost figures for all feeding period scenarios.

– In the yellow cells – enter the length of backgrounding period, target ADG (average daily gains) and projected Shrink %.

– Marketing time and weights will be calculated automatically.

Backgrounding Period (days)
Marketing Time
ADG (lbs/day)
Weight gain (lbs/head)
Marketing weight (lbs/head)
Shrink (%)
Pay Weight (lbs)

Preconditioning/Backgrounding Costs

– Check the box in green cell if use same cost figures for all feeding period scenarios.

– In the yellow cells, enter backgrounding costs; total backgrounding costs per head, and cost per head per day will be calculated automatically.

– The breakdown of cost per head, and cost composition for each scenario are show in the pie charts below.

Feed, hay, and pasture ($/day/head)
Medicine and veterinary care ($/head)
Yardage(labor and equipment) ($/day/head)
Interest rate (%)
Death loss (%)
Additional marketing costs (tags, commission, etc.) ($/head)
Total Backgrounding Cost ($/head)
Total Backgrounding Cost ($/head/day)

4. Projected Price after Preconditioning/Backgrounding

– In the yellow cells, choose the month of price used from the drop-down list

– Enter prices for weight categories in the above line (this could be the latest monthly average prices known when making decision)

– Projected prices based on a 5-year (2016-20) seasonal index will be automatically calculated (blue cells), you can choose to use these projected prices or enter your own projection

– Check the box in green cell to use seasonally adjusted price as sale price

– Uncheck the box in green cell to enter your own projected sale price in the yellow cells

– For more information on price projection and livestock price insurance coverage, check out the free Canfax app CFX Pro at

– Uncheck the box in green cell to enter your own projected sale price in the yellow cells

Pay weight(lbs)
Month of Price Used ($/cwt) (select from drop-down list)
Index of base month
Sale Month
Index of sale month
Projected Sale Price Seasonally adjusted ($/cwt)
Your projected sale price

Use prices above

Canfax Price Projection App

Backgrounding Gross Revenue ($/head)

5. Results

– Gross revenues at weaning, total backgrounding costs and backgrounding gross revenue are calculated in Step 2 to 4.

– Net return from backgrounding is calculated as additional revenue from backgrounding versus sell at weaning less total backgrounding cost.

– Estimated breakeven price is the price needed to breakeven on backgrounding

Gross Revenue at Weaning ($/head)
Backgrounding Gross Revenue ($/head)
Total Backgrounding Cost
Net Return from Preconditioning ($/head)
Breakeven Selling Prices ($/head)
Breakeven Price Premium (%)