DURING WEANING By Aly McClure
Effective weaning techniques will keep the cattleman producing as many calves as possible while retaining the overall health of his herd.” Raising cattle is full of it’s own joys, triumphs, tragedy’s, and all together difficult moments. But, like other things, what separates the “men from the boys” in rearing great calves is the way we handle the ever changing circumstances. Thankfully, one of the more difficult ones, weaning, only takes place once per year, twice for some. While weaning is an essential task for cattle producers, it can be a tedious one. Balling cows and calves, escapes trying to locate each other, and making sure everyone is continuing to eat and drink can be a full-time job for a couple of weeks. But, thankfully, they all do eventually calm down and cope. As you plan for your up coming weaning here are some thoughts 26
and tips to make it as smooth as a transition period as it can be.
Transitioning Into Weaning Timing
When you wean your calves is just as important as how you when your calves, there are many nuances to keep in mind. As a cattle producer, our job is to grow as many viable calves as possible. One of the ways we ensure this is through the weaning process. Pulling the calf off of the cow at the ideal time allows her body to gain condition, preferably before she falls below a 3.0, back and focus on her newest pregnancy and the changing seasons. It is important to have both animals primed for winter well before it begins.
Modified from: Pruitt and Momont, Cattle 87-9, “Effects of Body Condition On Reproductive Performance of Range Beef Cows” and from Virginia Cooperative Extension, 400-795, Body Condition Scoring Beef Cows. When you actually wean your calves is dependent on when your herd calves. Calves are weaned between seven and eight months of age. So if you have a late winter, early spring calving herd this would be June-July, and if you have a late summer early fall calving herd this would be February-March. During years of extreme weather patterns such as drought, there is an exception to earlier wean times, but overall you want your calves on the cows as long as possible before the cow condition falls to drastically. The calves need the nutritious benefits of their mama’s milk for at least the 7 * Continued on page 28