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Early Weaning

bncsimps

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I have several Black Angus calves that I plan to sell this spring. I'm considering weaning within the next few weeks; the youngest calve will be 3 1/2 months old if I start weaning by end of month Dec. What are the pros and cons of such early weaning? I'm considering this action mainly to ensure mama cows retain, and in some instances regain acceptable body conditioning prior to breeding back in Jan. Looking foward to reading your responses.

BKS
 

LoveMoo11

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I think the main con of early weaning is a loss of growth. Usually orphaned or abandoned calves don't grow nearly as big as ones of the same age that are still with their mother, unless they are bottle fed. If you are going to do it make sure they get plenty of feed so they can keep up with the others on growth.
 

mnmtranching

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Start now by making a area where the calves can get to feed. Give a little feed and the best hay and water. Cracked corn with a protein, mineral,vitamin and salt block or a commercial complete feed. I like the cracked corn, I know the ready made stuff has got screenings waste grain and who knows what in it.However, there are local mills that do a good job making calf feed. Once the calves are eating good, wean them. they will gain real well. And mamas will do better to on less feed.
 

KNERSIE

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Are there any excuses for the cows to become in a condition where you don't think they'll breed back if the calves are left on them?

As long as you can organise a rising plane of condition for the first 45 days after being bred conception rates won't be too badly affected by the cows being thin, unless they are at the point where survival mode kicked in and they aren't even cycling anymore. If this is achievable at all I'll tend to let the calves nurse a little longer, but either way get the calves started on creep feed and make sure there are no parasites eating away at the cows or calves for that matter.
 

dun

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Rahter then completly weaning, why not set up a creep area for the calves? Some kind of creep/grain ration and good qulaity hay for the calves should take a load off of the cows. Or you could supplement the cows so they stay in better condition, or select genetics that will work in your environement or spring calve. The last 2 are long range solutions
 

jcarkie

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thank you dun, i agree. it would be better to feed the cow a little more than feeding the calves. i have been hearing alot of talk about early weaning, because of some articles that have been published lately. i can see it in drought or when supplies are short, but why when conditions are good. it is alot easier to let the cow do her job than me try to do it for her.
 

4CTophand

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i DONT KNOW WHERE YOU ARE LOCATED BUT SOUNDS LIKE YOU HAVE SEPT OCT CALVING SO WHY DONT YOU HAVE ANY WINTER ANNUAL GRAZING AVAILABLE FOR YOUR COWS????
With the cost of feed these days, feeding calves just isnt smart business. Plus if you need to wean Oct born calves in December you have a Mgmt problem-- time to sell sell sell . All you need to do is have some available winter annual grazing for your cows for 2-3 hours per day where they can get the Nutr req and be fed low quality hay for filler. thus you take care of your cows and they take care of their own calves without your intervention. You wean their calves in May with no creep and their weaning weights can help justify why you have cows anyway.

My 2 cents
T
 

TexasBred

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4CTophand":f72i4zd2 said:
i DONT KNOW WHERE YOU ARE LOCATED BUT SOUNDS LIKE YOU HAVE SEPT OCT CALVING SO WHY DONT YOU HAVE ANY WINTER ANNUAL GRAZING AVAILABLE FOR YOUR COWS????
With the cost of feed these days, feeding calves just isnt smart business. Plus if you need to wean Oct born calves in December you have a Mgmt problem-- time to sell sell sell . All you need to do is have some available winter annual grazing for your cows for 2-3 hours per day where they can get the Nutr req and be fed low quality hay for filler. thus you take care of your cows and they take care of their own calves without your intervention. You wean their calves in May with no creep and their weaning weights can help justify why you have cows anyway.

My 2 cents
T


Can you spell "DROUGHT" ???Thousands of acres of wheat around here with $1000 a ton fertilizer under it and it's 1/2 inch tall. What's your next easy solution??
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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If you don't have the proper feed for the cows, it is a LOT CHEAPER to feed the calves than to feed the cows to feed the calves - if you are concerned about the BCS of the cows.
Calves can be kept healthy & growing a lot younger than 3.5 months of age at weaning. As suggested, it's best if you can set up a "creep" area for the calves to get started on a high quality grain prior to weaning if at all possible. There will be a lot less stress at weaning. Be sure your health program is up to date. You want vaccinations & deworming done.
You are already LATE for breeding your cows, if you had wanted to keep the same calving dates.
 

Bez+

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Still trying to get back to even.
If you are a small operator and can feed your calves for less than a dollar to a dollar fifty a day I would be surprised. I would not be surprised if you told me it was two and even close to three bucks a day - seen it with lots of folks here on this site.

There is lots of folks here that spend when they should be selling.

Gain is not always the way to make money. Selling to prevent future expense and taking the cash now is also a consideration in your drought areas. Feed costs tend to kill profit - ask the big guys who do it for a living. Can you do it better than them?

When you look at the gain a short calf makes - and then you factor in time and effort and upkeep as well as any additional machinery costings - even fuel for running to town to buy feed ......

Far as I am concerned - uness you are set up to handle this and can actually make a dollar - you would be far better to toss them as soon as you pull them.

When did you last check prices in your area on short / light calves.

Have you penciled the cost to keep?

Short calves always gain less and stress more.

Probably make as much selling them now as in 4 months with all factored in.

Short calves on a long keep are a crap shoot at best - even one dies you are deeper in the hole.

Someone else will gadly buy them - take YOUR risk with them - and you now have eliminated future feed bills and have cash in hand.

Only you can decide. Take a pencil work the numbers - and then take the crystal ball and predict the price you wil get at the end of your keep.

Bez+
 

TheBullLady

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I think it's best to go ahead and pull the calves and put them on feed also. If you can put out a creep feeder, that works good as well. All of our calves are on creep, and it makes it a lot less stressful when we do wean! I weaned some the end of November that were only 4 months old (shipped their mommas) and they're doing great.. the same size as the calves that have mommas.

They're all going down the road after the first of the year.
 

Alberta farmer

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I always figure the longer they stay on the cow the cheaper it is for me, but don't know if that applies when feed is very expensive as it seems to be in parts of the US this year. But then I don't sell calves anymore. I leave May/June calves on the cows until late Feb/early March just out eating hay and straw with momma. Sure don't get a bunch of sick calves that way. When weaned late most of the cows have already basically weaned their calves anyway. Feed those late weaned calves good hay and then out on grass by early May. Hope to sell in late August/early September at close to 900-950 lbs.
Don't know if this is the best way but I think I actually might make some money!
I am always amazed about how some people operate. I helped a neighbor haul calves to the auction in mid October. On 160 calves(born Mar/Apr) he averaged $417! We also hauled his cows home and they were fairly skinny! I doubt they averaged 1200 lbs and were black Angus. He started feeding them the next day!
I have no idea how this guy can make any money. Feed for 220+ days. He does his own hay and it was pretty good stuff. His pastures were poor, overgrazed. He rents quite a bit of his pasture. He told me once if I ever quit he would like to rent my pasture...like that is ever going to happen!
 

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