Questions about weaning and running calves together

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ArmyDoc

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At what age do you wean your calves? I've heard anywhere from 6 to 8 months. Is this reasonable?

Also, how long can you run your calves together (or should you not do this at all) before you are risk of you bull calves mating with the heiffers?
 

msscamp

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ArmyDoc":2tnatv5l said:
At what age do you wean your calves? I've heard anywhere from 6 to 8 months. Is this reasonable?

Also, how long can you run your calves together (or should you not do this at all) before you are risk of you bull calves mating with the heiffers?

Our calves were weaned around 6-7 months of age. How long you can run bull calves with heifer calves is going to depend on a few things - breed, genetics(the bigger, growthier heifers are generally the ones who start cycling early), management(the better they are fed, the faster they tend to grow, and the earlier they tend to start cycling), and plain old luck. There is no pat answer, but I would not recommend running bull calves with heifer calves any longer than absolutely necessary - that practice WILL bite you in the ass one day soon - trust me on this. If your facilities are such that you are not able to sort off and seperate the bull calves, you really need to address that situation promptly.
 

SRBeef

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Based on my limited experience, you want to be careful not to leave the calves on the cows for too long. Nursing a 550-600 lb calf takes a lot out of a cow who should also have a new calf growing inside her. I went 7 months from first calf to weaning all last year and it was too long for the better cows. It will be 6 months from first calf to weaning this coming year.

Also based on limited experience, I would say that no bull calf should still be a bull after weaning day unless you are planning to and prepared to raise him as a breeding bull.

As far as when to castrate, there are different thoughts on this and really no general agreement. Any time from birth to weaning has advantages and disadvantages. Personally I left the bull calves whole until about July (4 months old avg). Partially because I am not there at birth, partially because there "may" be some early developmental advantage (I know, this is arguable), but mostly for health reasons. I have the vet cut the bull calves during the summer herd workup in early July and they can heal up on clean, green grass. In a week or 10 days they are back to frisky calves - and you are sure there are no misses. Just count to two.

There are also no further issues leaving new steers and heifers together with the cows and bull until weaning time. jmho.
 

msscamp

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SRBeef":qkc4u2xa said:
Personally I left the bull calves whole until about July (4 months old avg).

SRBeef, I'm curious as to whether you've had any problems with flies with your program? Thanks!
 
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ArmyDoc

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Thanks for the replies. I'm still in the planning stages yet, so no real world problems to deal with. My plan was to generally band at birth if they are clearly going to market. But then I though, what if I have one that looks like a good prospect?

At weaning, I need to pull all the calves off the cows into a sepparate herd. (By the way, how long before they can be put back together withouth them starting to nurse again? a month or two?) But if I need to bull the bull calf (calves?) into a sepparate group, that means I need another pasture for him. He's probably not going to be happy by himself. So, another question. If I do have a good prospect someday, and I need to sepperate him from the cows, would he be ok with the bull if I keep them together after weaning? Or would they fight, even with him being immature?
 

SRBeef

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msscamp":1fjauhe8 said:
SRBeef":1fjauhe8 said:
Personally I left the bull calves whole until about July (4 months old avg).

SRBeef, I'm curious as to whether you've had any problems with flies with your program? Thanks!

MS I assume you mean about flies spreading disease into the cut on the newly steered calves in July?

Actually there has been no sign of fly problems yet with the castrated calves.

In the summer especially I have a rub with the hang-down "flyps" which is soaked in diesel and permythrin (sp?). All cattle including the calves need to pass under and thru this rub to get to and from the waterer several times a day. This seems to be lkeeping the body flies down. I hate to see cattle covered with flies in the summer!!!

Even though this rub does not get underneath the belly, it seems to keep all animals, including the calves fairly free of flies in the summer. If I start seeing a lot of flies on them I mix up a fresh batch of diesel and permythrin (sp?) and go down and pour a gallon or so on the rub.

Here are pictures of the rub. I let it hang down so it really covers them when they push under it to get to water.

View attachment 1



Since I rotationally graze, I put them in a fresh pasture with good grass and little manure directly after castration. It looks like the cows take good care of the steered calves, usually licking them clean. From what I understand the key is to keep the open cut calves from lying down in manure areas.

After grazing an area I try to drag it with my "Wingfield" drag as soon as I can after the cattle leave and are moved to a new pasture. This dragging spreads the manure patties. After draggin and a couple of good rains you don't see most of the manure and the grass grows thru where it was and you don't get the 1 foot "avoidance" zones next time that pasture is grazed.

After castration I try to put the cows and steers in an especially long-rest paddock. In about 10 days they are pretty well sealed up and flies or manure are not an issue - so far. This works in WI where we generally get reasonable rain over the summer. It may not work well in drier areas of WY. Good luck.

Jim
 

grubbie

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We band our bull calves at branding time, right around June 1. The calves are 2 1/2 to 3 months old at that time. Then we don't have to worry about them breeding, and run them all together after weaning.
 

angie1

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ArmyDoc":2ai4dra8 said:
Thanks for the replies. I'm still in the planning stages yet, so no real world problems to deal with. My plan was to generally band at birth if they are clearly going to market. But then I though, what if I have one that looks like a good prospect?

At weaning, I need to pull all the calves off the cows into a sepparate herd. (By the way, how long before they can be put back together withouth them starting to nurse again? a month or two?) But if I need to bull the bull calf (calves?) into a sepparate group, that means I need another pasture for him. He's probably not going to be happy by himself. So, another question. If I do have a good prospect someday, and I need to sepperate him from the cows, would he be ok with the bull if I keep them together after weaning? Or would they fight, even with him being immature?
Keep them apart no less than 8 weeks. You can put your weaned bull calf in with your bull. I have never had a problem doing this. I would not put him with the bull while he is being weaned as the younger has different nutritional requirements that are important to tend to if he is going to be kept a bull. Make sense? Good Luck.
 

msscamp

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SRBeef":31vyywiy said:
msscamp":31vyywiy said:
SRBeef":31vyywiy said:
Personally I left the bull calves whole until about July (4 months old avg).

SRBeef, I'm curious as to whether you've had any problems with flies with your program? Thanks!

MS I assume you mean about flies spreading disease into the cut on the newly steered calves in July?

Jim

Yes, that was part of why I asked. The other part was general harrassement(sp?) on the part of the flies coupled with an open wound. It sounds like you've got it covered, though. About how often do you have to resoak your flyps? The cows are gone, and I've got a meat goat operation going. My/our major problem was(is) not with the drier climate, it was(is) with all the feedlots that surround us. It's kind of amazing how far flies can travel, and how difficult it is to eradicate them once they have hit in hugh numbers. :lol:
 

KNERSIE

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At weaning, I need to pull all the calves off the cows into a sepparate herd. (By the way, how long before they can be put back together withouth them starting to nurse again? a month or two?)

Generally the older the calves are at weaning the easier the weaning process and the slimmer the chance they'll try and go back to nursing.

SRBeef wrote:
Based on my limited experience, you want to be careful not to leave the calves on the cows for too long. Nursing a 550-600 lb calf takes a lot out of a cow who should also have a new calf growing inside her. I went 7 months from first calf to weaning all last year and it was too long for the better cows. It will be 6 months from first calf to weaning this coming year.

SRBeef, I appreciate that not all environments are the same and that management need to adapt to that, but make an experiment with a few of your easier doing cows and wean their calves much later and observe the difference in how well the calves do after weaning and at what feed cost compared to thise weaned younger.

Just another thing to consider, if your cows are bred back and you know you'll be able to put alot of condition on them by grazing standing corn, why would a few lost lbs on the cow side be such a disaster considering what you lose on the cow you gain on the calves?

Its also a known fact that only the last trimester of gestation really takes extra nutrition for the pregnant cow, in a fixed calving season (not considering environmental issues) it effectively means that you need to have the calves weaned when the oldest calf is 9 months old, then the oldest foetus would be around 6 months.

If you wean when the oldest calf is 6 months, the youngest is likely only 4 months in the real world, although we strive for a 28 day calving season, it just never happens like that even in the most fertile herds. That 4 month old calf will need special care to properly grow out after weaning. This also means the oldest foetus is only 3 months and the youngest about a month. If your cows can't handle nursing a calf and growing a 1-3 month old foetus, you need to upgrade your genetics to become more in sync with your environment. In that case a bull with basically all trait leading EPDs like your young bull may very well be exactly what you DON'T need.
 

hillsdown

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If you run your girls all together be prepared for the odd [email protected] head to nurse from mom after she calves again .I think it has happened to everyone at some point who does this..

Not saying that you shouldn't put them all together especially if you have limited pastures/pens and with the economy and price of cattle I do not suggest spending money on pens except for your bulls..But do not be surprised to see one of your weened heifers of 5 months is nursing from her mom while her mom is trying to nurse her new baby..
 

SRBeef

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KNERSIE said:
...Just another thing to consider, if your cows are bred back and you know you'll be able to put alot of condition on them by grazing standing corn, why would a few lost lbs on the cow side be such a disaster considering what you lose on the cow you gain on the calves?

Its also a known fact that only the last trimester of gestation really takes extra nutrition for the pregnant cow, in a fixed calving season (not considering environmental issues) it effectively means that you need to have the calves weaned when the oldest calf is 9 months old, then the oldest foetus would be around 6 months.

If you wean when the oldest calf is 6 months, the youngest is likely only 4 months in the real world, although we strive for a 28 day calving season, it just never happens like that even in the most fertile herds. That 4 month old calf will need special care to properly grow out after weaning. This also means the oldest foetus is only 3 months and the youngest about a month. If your cows can't handle nursing a calf and growing a 1-3 month old foetus, you need to upgrade your genetics to become more in sync with your environment. In that case a bull with basically all trait leading EPDs like your young bull may very well be exactly what you DON'T need.

Thanks for the suggestions, Knersie.

Last year after a very wet lush (flood) spring and early summer the weather in my area turned very dry for most of July throuh about mid September.

My corn was also very wet and late. I could not let them on it until about the first week in Oct, had to pull them off for a week, then finally let them on cornstalks for good about the third week in Oct.

So they really did not get a good run on corn before weaning at Nov 1. They were not looking like I want them to look so I weaned them. Last fall's calves were also from a rent-a-bull. Some good calves, some so-so but background of the sire was really unknown. This is one reason I did purchase a bull.

You have started me thinking - rather than automatically weaning at 6 mos this coming fall, I will wait and give the cows more time on the corn before making a decision. I may have jumped a bit early this past fall because I did not really know how they would do on the standing corn.

My calves were all born within a 29 day period this past spring! Luck.I would not wean a 4 month old calf. I want them at least 500 lb at wean. This past year my calves' 205 day AWW was 588 lb for all; heifers avg 553 lb steers avg 635 lb.

It will be a whole new ball game this spring with my bull and I hope to get the corn in sooner and let the cows at it sooner now that I know a bit more about what I am doing. I am also aiming at bringing my average cow mature weight down to about 1200 lb. If I want them to wean a 50% calf that means I need the calves to average 600 lb 205 day AWW. 620 or 630 lb herd average WW would be even better.

Thanks for your suggestions.

Jim
 
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