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Weaning with a Plan

Weaning is one of the most critical times in a calf’s lifecycle. There is so much that can go wrong, but with a little planning it could all go just right.

When

Watching indicators like the cow condition, range quality and general calf health can help producers decide on the best time to wean. To give calves the greatest chance for success, cows should be healthy and providing adequate milk at weaning. Drought, stocking rates and end-product quality are all reasons to look into early weaning.

What

Prior to separation, calves should receive recommended vaccinations, be de-horned, de-wormed, castrated and individually identified. It’s also helpful to get them used to different sights and sounds, like people, horses and vehicles. This reduces weaning-day-related stress.

A highly palatable, nutrient-dense ration is the ideal.

It's the job of the cow-calf
producer to prepare those
animals for the next stage
of production."

Where

Cattlemen should put a game plan together ahead of time that includes labor and facilities needs. Fenceline weaning, on grass or in a drylot are all options.

Having exposure to their new feedstuffs, water source and environment ahead of time makes the transition easier.

Why

Keeping cattle on the same plane of nutrition between weaning and sending to a feedyard will help preserve health and beef quality-grade potential later on.

Max Irsik, Extension veterinarian at the University of Florida says a solid weaning program probably benefits cow-calf producers more if they’re retaining ownership, but it’s the responsible thing to do regardless.

“Even if they feel that they are not getting paid for it, it’s the job of the cow-calf producer to prepare those animals for the next stage of production.”