Cattle

General Guide On How To Wean Beef Calves 2023

Host

Cattle Farmers Worldwide

Target Audience

Beef Farmers

Introduction

Weaning beef calves typically occurs between 6 to 8 months of age, depending on the specific management practices and goals of the operation. However, it’s important to note that the exact timing may vary based on factors such as breed, nutrition, and overall health of the calves.

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Early weaning


Calves weaned at an early age (less than five months) will not develop properly, hence early weaning should only be considered under extreme drought or feed shortages.

You must choose whether to wean the cow early and give the calf concentrate or whether to give the cow a roughage supplement while she is still nursing the calf if the cow’s health deteriorates before the scheduled weaning period.

An early-weaned calf will have a somewhat high feeding expense because it will be fed primarily concentrates. Therefore, you should only provide these concentrates in trying circumstances.

Here are 10 general guide on how to wean a calf:

  1. Prepare a separate weaning area: Create a separate pen or pasture where the weaned calves can be kept away from their mothers. Ensure that the area has adequate space, water, and feed.
  2. Gradual separation: Gradually separate the calves from their mothers over a period of time. This can be done by using a temporary fence or gradually increasing the distance between the cows and calves.
  3. Fence-line weaning: Another method is fence-line weaning, where the calves are separated from their mothers by a fence. This allows them to see and interact with each other, reducing stress.
  4. Provide a familiar environment: Ensure that the weaning area has familiar surroundings, such as the same type of feeders and waterers that the calves are used to. This helps them adjust more easily.
  5. Offer high-quality feed: Provide the weaned calves with high-quality feed to meet their nutritional needs. This can include good-quality hay, pasture, and a balanced ration if necessary.
  6. Monitor water intake: Ensure that the weaned calves have access to clean and fresh water at all times. Monitor their water intake to prevent dehydration.
  7. Minimize stress: Minimize stress during the weaning process by maintaining a calm environment. Avoid loud noises, sudden movements, or overcrowding.
  8. Observe for health issues: Keep a close eye on the weaned calves for any signs of health issues, such as respiratory problems or digestive upsets. Promptly address any concerns by consulting a veterinarian.
  9. Vaccinations and treatments: Follow a proper vaccination and deworming schedule for the weaned calves to protect them from common diseases and parasites.
  10. Gradual reintroduction: If the weaned calves will be reintroduced to the cow herd later, it’s advisable to gradually reintroduce them to minimize stress and prevent aggressive behavior.

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Producing as many calves as possible is the primary goal of the cattle industry. Your cows should be able to calve every year if you wean your calves properly.

When a calf reaches the age of seven to eight months, it should be weaned. However, the condition of the cow, not the calf’s age, should determine the precise timing of weaning.

The cow is likely to preserve her condition if you wean a calf before her condition score drops below 2.5. But winter food must be plenty. Wean the calf if at all possible before the cow’s condition score drops to less than 3.

Wean the calf early (around six months) during periods of drought and insufficient feed supply to give the cow time to recover.

Remember, these are general tips, and it’s always recommended to consult with a local veterinarian or an experienced cattle producer for specific guidance based on your operation’s needs and conditions.

Producing as many calves as possible is the primary goal of the cattle industry. Your cows should be able to calve every year if you wean your calves properly.

When a calf reaches the age of seven to eight months, it should be weaned. However, the condition of the cow, not the calf’s age, should determine the precise timing of weaning.

The cow is likely to preserve her condition if you wean a calf before her condition score drops below 2.5. But winter food must be plenty. Wean the calf if at all possible before the cow’s condition score drops to less than 3.

Wean the calf early (around six months) during periods of drought and insufficient feed supply to give the cow time to recover.

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In the eastern parts of the country, a calf born during spring can be weaned early in May at the age of seven to eight months. In the western parts, a calf can be weaned late in May or early June at seven to eight months, as the breeding season tends to be later in these regions.

4 Major General tips for weaners

  • Castrate, dehorn and brand the calves when they are two to three months old, not just before weaning. This will ensure that the stress of these operations doesn’t add to the stress of weaning.
  • Keep a few dry cows with the weaners to help them stay calm.
  • Provide plenty of good-quality roughage, water and shade in the weaning camps. To prevent excessive walking and trampling, the camps should not be too large.
  • The weaning process should last a week or two, depending on the age at the calves and the breed of cow.

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Chivalrous Curie

Dr Jacinth Anesu Kuri is a certified Animal Production Scientist from Harare Zimbabwe. He is the CEO of a prominent NGO in Zimbabwe called Agric Tech Opportunities. He is the founder of AgricTech Charities Foundation. Trained by Campuslifestyle to be an IT expect and Web developer And Chief Blogger.

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