Weaning at 90 to 120 days of age is a proven tool to maximize feed efficiency and stimulate marbling development. Keep three things in mind if you’re considering this management decision for young, dry-lot weaned calves: feed well, feed often and prepare for pickiness.
Early weaned calves have smaller rumens, less intake capacity and fewer microbes to digest feed than older weanlings, so feeds must be high quality, nutrient dense and highly digestible.
- Minimum crude protein level of 14%, 16% for those weighing less than 300 lb.
- Moderate energy levels of 50-52 Mcal net energy gain (NEg) for the first two weeks, to gradually increase after that.
- Trace mineral levels of 25% to 30% above normal starter diet.
- Plenty of high-quality grass hay.
- Consider a self-feeding program to eliminate bunk-space competition and encourage consistent intake.
- Creep feeding 30 days before weaning will smooth the transition by familiarizing them to bunk feeding.
Prepare for pickiness:
- Young calves will be more selective when learning to eat. Use pelleted feed to eliminate sorting.
- Use an ionophore feed additive to prevent coccidiosis.
- Once they are adjusted to bunk feedings, make sure to communicate that to the next owner to be rewarded for the added input.
To learn more about early weaning, dowload pdf.