Weaning naturally

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scheff

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Hi,
Anyone leave it up to the cow on when to wean the calf? Certainly not my plan, just curious if a cow would eventually wean the calf in time for the next delivery. Occasionally I’ll have one that is an escape artist and will get back with the herd... yesterday saw it carefully crossing a cattle guard - but made it. Just looking for the odds of success/disaster for the next calf. I bet there are some who don’t wean at all, and let nature run the course?
Thanks for your thoughts.
 
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scheff

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Thanks for the replies! And yeah, I try to separate them at 8 or 9 months at the latest, but occasionally one will find its way back to the momma... through electric fencing or crossing a cattle guard. Some are just so determined, and once they escape once, my experience is they’ll do again, and again, and again.
 

76 Bar

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Anyone leave it up to the cow on when to wean the calf?
Assuredly not here.
A little story: Had a neighbor who did so in big rugged country (and by all accounts should have known better). More than once picked up her estray pairs & often as not a newly freshened cow AND her yearling on my place. Obvious the cow had a new calf. Always gave her ample opportunity to rethink the deal and find it. No dice...the yrlg at her side confused the deal.
Long story short, more than once the owner had the nerve to intimate I was negligent in failing to also pick up the newborn as well. Pretty damned insulting and especially considering my cattle never transgressed on this neighbor while it was annually commonplace for a goodly number of hers to be on me.

occasionally one will find its way back to the momma... through electric fencing or crossing a cattle guard.
Sheet happens but its your duty as a responsible cattleman and neighbor to minimize or better still, prevent such occurrences. Allowing livestock to challenge barriers and win is guaranteed to cause grief.
 

lithuanian farmer

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Always try to wean calves at least one month before their dams calve. Usually it's at 6-8months age and cows have plenty of time to rest. However there was one time, when we kept a calf with the dam for longer and saw that a cow was already preparing to calve soon. Had to move fast. She was skinny at the calving, so I believe it's better to wean abit earlier than wait for the cow to do it. There probably was one cow, which has weaned her calf herself, but haven't noticed others doing that. At the moment have a couple cows calving in January-February with their winter born calves at the side, so hopefully will be able to wean them until mid of December. Have to build their shed...
 

farmerjan

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scheff":2ndascwu said:
Thanks for the replies! And yeah, I try to separate them at 8 or 9 months at the latest, but occasionally one will find its way back to the momma... through electric fencing or crossing a cattle guard. Some are just so determined, and once they escape once, my experience is they’ll do again, and again, and again.

And then they get on the trailer and leave....Don't want a replacement that will continually get out, even to go back to "momma". They leave.
 
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scheff

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Yeah, she’ll be on a trailer eventually thanks. I’m not keeping any that don’t respect fences, etc...
Guess my question is more of a “what if” scenario where calves don’t get weaned in time for the next delivery... would the cow have instincts enough to wean it herself. Just curious of other experiences. Thanks again all.
 

Redgully

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It depends on the cow, when next door had cattle he never weaned and it was a mess. A few would but many were just skinny and he lost a lot of cattle from not being hands on. I must say it was bloody hard to watch. We always give a cow three months break until she calves to let the tissue in the udder dry up and regenerate. My brother had a cow with a two year old still nursing but the cow hadn't calved since having her. I was told you can put easy wean flaps on for four days before seperating and it helps the process. If you leave them together longer the calf will figure out how to drink around the flap.
 

JMJ Farms

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If the cow happens to not wean the previous calf, then the new calf has little to no chance of survival. No colostrum and the yearling will keep her sucked dry.
 

Chocolate Cow2

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Years ago, my Dad ran bulls year round. Guess you could say 'he managed by not managing'. The summer months when the cows were back out on grass was the worst because the cows weren't seen daily. Cow with a bigger calf would calve and just walk off and leave the new baby. "Weaning naturally" - I don't believe anyone today can afford to try it.
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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You may find a cow or two that will wean her calf. Generally, I think it's just that they run out of milk so the calf quits trying. But, that is a disaster waiting to happen. As mentioned, a newborn doesn't have a chance with a yearling around.
 

Lucky

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Natural weaning seems to be a trend of the “all natural grass fed beef” crowd around here. These are also usually people that are new to cattle and don’t believe in spraying or mowing pastures. I just can’t see how it would work on a big scale. I can see one or two slipping by but not the entire calf crop. Calves are supposed to be stripped and separated from the cows at 210 days. If you don’t have the facilities build them or sell calves at weaning age. It’s really not that hard.
 

True Grit Farms

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In the wild nature takes care of the weaning process naturally. Personally I really don’t see the benefits of doing everything the right way, especially dollar wise.
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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True Grit Farms":tfmr3gpg said:
In the wild nature takes care of the weaning process naturally. Personally I really don’t see the benefits of doing everything the right way, especially dollar wise.
How many cows have you owned that would refuse to nurse her calf right up to calving?
How many cows would abort their pregnancy if left nursing a calf drawing her BCS down?
How many calves would survive born to a cow nursing a yearling?
Wrong way = more money?????
 

Lucky

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Oops I thought we were talking about cows guess we switched to wild animals :D . We wean calves at 210 days to give the cow a small break for her body to recover before the next calf gets here. After 4-5 days the cow is glad the little booger is gone and she gets some relief. The calf goes on feed and all is good. I wean behind either a 5 strand barb wire or net wire fence, always in eyesite of each other. I’ve had a few problems in the past but it’s manageable. Not saying this is the best way but it’s easy and it works.
 

True Grit Farms

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Jeanne - Simme Valley":hpd88tcz said:
True Grit Farms":hpd88tcz said:
In the wild nature takes care of the weaning process naturally. Personally I really don’t see the benefits of doing everything the right way, especially dollar wise.
How many cows have you owned that would refuse to nurse her calf right up to calving? I think quite a few.
How many cows would abort their pregnancy if left nursing a calf drawing her BCS down? None that I know of, our cows get preg checked and the opens get culled. We cull on adverage 2 - 3 cows per year out of 90 head for being open. Our BCS is not very good and definitely our management practices are to blame for that.
How many calves would survive born to a cow nursing a yearling? This year we lost 2 calves, last year 0, year before 5, year before 0, year before 1.
Wrong way = more money?????
I'm all for BQA and doing things supposedly right way. But don't think for a minute that it'll make you anymore more money. I'm not saying that our management is right, but I feel it puts the most money in our pocket per acre. And if you include the time we save by not having to screw with our cows daily, we're money ahead. I pick and choose what I feel is the best management for making money on our cattle and off our property.
I can't keep up with the Jone's, but I've come to realize that's life.
 

Lucky

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True Grit Farms":11eqwu38 said:
Jeanne - Simme Valley":11eqwu38 said:
True Grit Farms":11eqwu38 said:
In the wild nature takes care of the weaning process naturally. Personally I really don’t see the benefits of doing everything the right way, especially dollar wise.
How many cows have you owned that would refuse to nurse her calf right up to calving? I think quite a few.
How many cows would abort their pregnancy if left nursing a calf drawing her BCS down? None that I know of, our cows get preg checked and the opens get culled. We cull on adverage 2 - 3 cows per year out of 90 head for being open. Our BCS is not very good and definitely our management practices are to blame for that.
How many calves would survive born to a cow nursing a yearling? This year we lost 2 calves, last year 0, year before 5, year before 0, year before 1.
Wrong way = more money?????
I'm all for BQA and doing things supposedly right way. But don't think for a minute that it'll make you anymore more money. I'm not saying that our management is right, but I feel it puts the most money in our pocket per acre. And if you include the time we save by not having to screw with our cows daily, we're money ahead. I pick and choose what I feel is the best management for making money on our cattle and off our property.
I can't keep up with the Jone's, but I've come to realize that's life.

What do you do with the older calves once the new ones are born? Not arguing just curious, everyone has to do what works for them.
 

True Grit Farms

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Lucky":35ul5j0f said:
True Grit Farms":35ul5j0f said:
Jeanne - Simme Valley":35ul5j0f said:
How many cows have you owned that would refuse to nurse her calf right up to calving? I think quite a few.
How many cows would abort their pregnancy if left nursing a calf drawing her BCS down? None that I know of, our cows get preg checked and the opens get culled. We cull on adverage 2 - 3 cows per year out of 90 head for being open. Our BCS is not very good and definitely our management practices are to blame for that.
How many calves would survive born to a cow nursing a yearling? This year we lost 2 calves, last year 0, year before 5, year before 0, year before 1.
Wrong way = more money?????
I'm all for BQA and doing things supposedly right way. But don't think for a minute that it'll make you anymore more money. I'm not saying that our management is right, but I feel it puts the most money in our pocket per acre. And if you include the time we save by not having to screw with our cows daily, we're money ahead. I pick and choose what I feel is the best management for making money on our cattle and off our property.
I can't keep up with the Jone's, but I've come to realize that's life.

What do you do with the older calves once the new ones are born? Not arguing just curious, everyone has to do what works for them.
The nicer heifers that we sell private treaty are separated and worked to BQA and or sale standards. We feed them a corn - wcs ration daily and they look good, sometimes really good. We've won the best pen of heifers at the GCA sale and topped the sale price a time or two at others. It's easy to raise nice looking cattle all you need to do is feed them. But it's hard to make money feeding heifers, especially when you can buy bred young cows for $700 or less. The rest of the heifers are left out with the cows and bulls to fend for themselves, no extra nothing. I'm not scared for our heifers to calve at 17 - 18 months and 800 - 850lbs. To me it's the way it's supposed to be and makes the most sense. In nature there's no breeding age or supplements, but we do vaccinate every heifer to BQA standards. I know that sounds crazy to some, but I don't want large cows. MOST of the time when a heifer has a calf young she's stunted a little, but her DNA is still the same. Her 1st calf will be small coming and going. But her 2nd calf will be right in line with the herd adverage. If I don't like what I see after the second calf she'll be sold bred, or as a pair depending on which way she brings the most. We normally sell no heifers through the sale barn unless their really ugly or open. Our cows don't look so good anymore and I'm a little embarrassed really. But we're making as much money per head now as when prices were a lot better, with a lot less work. I'm still experimenting and have been for years.
 

Stocker Steve

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Yes.
Lots of general comments here, but it really depends on your cows and your feed.
Efficient lower milking cows (like Herf or Herf crosses) will do fine regardless of feed.
Average cows may need a little DDG.
A few high input heavy milking cows (like some Simi or stein crosses) will have problems, and could end up as culls. Kit would say good riddance...
 
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