Weaning time is a high-stress state of affairs for calves. However there are 5 methods cattle producers may help ease the transition and set these calves up for fulfillment.
Consultants from the College of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Pure Assets, and the Beef Cattle Institute at Kansas State College usually agree that low-stress weaning can contribute significantly to the long run success of that calf because it grows.
1. Labor and gear. The Okay-State Beef Cattle Institute’s specialists, Bob Weaber, division head of the Okay-State Japanese Kansas Analysis and Extension Heart; in addition to Brad White, director of BCI; Bob Larson, professor of medical sciences; and Dustin Pendell, affiliate professor, weighed in on low-stress weaning on a Sept. 11, 2020, episode of “Cattle Chat.”
Step one any cattle producer ought to take, they agreed, is to think about the labor and gear they’ve out there to them. If there’s a member of the family or pal who’s extra hindrance than assist, perhaps give them a unique job, they stated. Repair gates and gear earlier than calves ever get to the pen for security and safety. Do a walk-through of your services — even get out the mower and mow down tall weeds that may present eye irritants to younger calves, Weaber stated.
2. Water entry. This additionally means ensuring that you’ve got loads of out there water that calves can bodily get to within the pen, they added. These calves could also be coming from a pasture setting, the place they realized to drink out of a pond or creek. So, your objective is to guarantee that they’ll regulate to any water setup you could have within the pen, they suggested. Meaning taking off waterer covers, or ensuring they’re within the open place to allow them to see and scent the water, and see different animals ingesting from the taps.
Bear in mind, additionally, they stated, that calves at 200 days aren’t as tall as a grown cow or steer, and a few water sources in pens will be too tall for them to achieve. It may be so simple as ensuring that there’s sufficient fill dust across the water tank to offer entry to shorter calves.
“Water is an important nutrient,” Weaber stated. So you might must deliver one other water tank into the pen to make certain they’ve entry as they’re switching from mom’s milk to a feed ration.
3. Well being protocols. Preconditioning calves with a 45-day postweaning interval has been an business apply for a while, in line with the Beef High quality Assurance program. Preconditioning can enhance animal well being, their efficiency within the feedlot — and in the end, their carcass high quality on the rail.
“Calves with fewer well being issues after leaving the ranch would require much less medicine, endure much less demise loss, carry out extra effectively and probably have higher-valued carcasses,” in line with the BQA supplies.
Karla Jenkins, Nebraska Extension beef specialist, reminds cattle producers that low-stress weaning can really increase the effectiveness of the vaccinations and well being merchandise these calves are given. A preconditioning protocol ought to embrace vaccines towards bovine respiratory illness viruses; a clostridial vaccine akin to 7-way blackleg; and a dewormer to guard towards parasites. That is additionally the time to use development implants for terminal calves.
4. Bodily separation. There are three fundamental methods to separate the cow from the calf, and you should select what’s proper on your operation. Weaber says he prefers the fence-line weaning methodology over the normal methodology of abruptly loading up calves off of the pasture and taking them to a bodily dry lot or small pasture distant from the cows. The calves are separated from their dams by a fence, however they’ll nonetheless see them. It gently breaks the maternal bond in a couple of week, after which the calf will be set as much as change its food plan.
Different specialists swear by the two-step weaning course of, the place a plastic nostril piece is positioned within the calf’s nostril. The gadget lets the calf graze and drink water, but it surely has factors on the tip that may poke the cow if the calf tries to nurse. After about two weeks of the cow discouraging the calf from suckling, the pairs will be separated extra simply.
“Match what you are able to do together with your sources, your time and what works greatest on your operation,” Weaber stated.
5. Diet. Jenkins and Dee Griffin, Nebraska Extension feedlot veterinarian, emphasize that diet is a key a part of weight achieve and immune response in weaned calves. You’re switching them from milk, which is wealthy in vitality, protein, nutritional vitamins, and minerals. It must be changed with high-quality forage and presumably a complement as properly to keep up that preweaning consumption, they suggested.
When you’re weaning calves on native vary within the fall, do not forget that grass is in a state of declining nutrient content material and may have supplemental feed.
When you’re weaning in a drylot, these calves should first discover ways to eat from a bunk house, so present about 2 ft per head for the variety of calves being weaned. And, as together with your water supply, you might want so as to add fill dust round bunks to permit these smaller calves to achieve the bunk.
Kansas State College Beef Cattle Institute, Kansas Beef Council, and the College of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Pure Assets contributed to this text.