When is best time to Wean?

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SFFarms

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I know this has probably been covered before but the search bar on here seems not to really want to cooperate today. So when is the best day range to wean? I have been getting mixed answers from some buddies who say earliest weaning between 150-200 days old is better but no one gives me a real good reason why. Most the majority I have talked too say between 240-270 to get the best results out of the calves they can get. So which is better for ya'll and why?
 

KNERSIE

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If the grazing is good and the cows' condition is good, I prefer to wean the replacements as late as possible just as long as the cow have a minimum of 2 months rest. The commercial calves are weaned to fit the weight ranges of the feedlot I sell to to get the most for the calf before he gets discounted for being a heavyweight.

In a drought I have weaned everything 4 months and older in the past, but then they need special care and attention to make sure they continue to grow. As a generalisation, in a forage only system, try and let them nurse atleast 7 months if at all possible.
 

SRBeef

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About weaning, this is something I have also been looking into as a beginner. I hesitate to give any advice with all the more experienced folks here. This is just the way I have been looking at the same question.

There is probably a good reason that the standard for EPD calf weaning weights is 205 days. I don't think that number was pulled out of a hat somewhere.

However it looks to me that you have two factors here, the health and growth of the calf and the health and long term good of the cow and new calf which should be growing inside her.

As Knersie has pointed out here, there are differences between cows in how much they are drawn down by suckling a large calf. There are also differences in the amount and quality of feed available for the cow.

Basically I am looking at weaning around 205 days and adjusting that a bit one way or the other depending on pasture, etc. I am also looking to cull cows that get pulled down more than others raising similar calves under similar conditions.

This is complicate a bit more by my attempt to move toward 1200 lb cows rather than 1350+ lb cows. A 1200 lb cow may get drawn down more by a big calf than a larger cow? So I probably need to watch my target 1200 lb cows condition more than the larger ones when determining when to wean.

I had one larger heifer that had a very large and gorgeous calf last year. Lots of milk. But came up open at preg check at weaning time. This was a real dilemma. Looking at her calf which was big to begin with and had super growth, it was hard to cull this cow. However the choice was to keep her open for a year or cull her.

It seemed like even though she had a super calf, if I divide that calf into pounds of calf per year this cow is way behind the others. So I stuck with my original plan that any cow not pregnant at preg check at weaning time gets culled.

So basically it looks to me that wean around 205 days as a target for most of the calves. I have the vet in at that time for fall shots, pour on the ones not being harvested, preg check, weigh all of them and separate them out of the chute.

It will be interesting this year because up to weaning time I will have pregnant (hopefully) cows, their suckling calves, heifers, yearling steers being harvested and bull all together. At weaning the suckling calves will go to one side of the fence, everyone else will still be together on the other side. fwiw
 
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SFFarms

SFFarms

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Thanks Knersie and SR, I think I understand its all about what you want to achieve from your calves. I agree with you SR on that 205 day is a very good option since it is used in so many epd evaluations
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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And I hope YESTERDAY was the perfect day to wean :banana: We weaned 7 fall calves born in October.
Breed associations ADJUST weaning age to 205, so you can wean earlier or later (within a range) and they adjust to 205. You don't have to wean each calf at 205.
Your environment, cow condition & management dictates when you should wean. In our case, 2 months is not enough time to get condition on the cow in the dead of winter. We wean pretty close to the 6.5 -7 month age. The majority of our calves are born in Feb - we wean in early Sept. This gives our cows fall grazing time before winter sets in. But, what works for me may not be right for anyone else.
 

Angus Cowman

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Jeanne - Simme Valley":24il789o said:
And I hope YESTERDAY was the perfect day to wean :banana: We weaned 7 fall calves born in October.
Breed associations ADJUST weaning age to 205, so you can wean earlier or later (within a range) and they adjust to 205. You don't have to wean each calf at 205.
Your environment, cow condition & management dictates when you should wean. In our case, 2 months is not enough time to get condition on the cow in the dead of winter. We wean pretty close to the 6.5 -7 month age. The majority of our calves are born in Feb - we wean in early Sept. This gives our cows fall grazing time before winter sets in. But, what works for me may not be right for anyone else.
I weaned yesterday also and the cows are sure raising a ruckus calves don't seem to mind it to bad except I had one get back with the cows gonna seperate him in the morning still haven't figured out how he got back in with the cows tho the calves are in a 6 ft pipe corral and no holes anywhere

The almanac said it was time so I weaned
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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Well, hubby checked the Almanac AFTER we weaned - said it was wrong timing (we were a week ago). They REALLY bawled a bunch - poor neighbors! They're fine now. A calf will bawl once in a while, but they generally shut right up when they see me! I'm their new MOM.
 

backhoeboogie

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Jeanne - Simme Valley":kw4rlwxx said:
Well, hubby checked the Almanac AFTER we weaned - said it was wrong timing (we were a week ago). They REALLY bawled a bunch - poor neighbors! They're fine now. A calf will bawl once in a while, but they generally shut right up when they see me! I'm their new MOM.

Dad and grandad did everything by the almanac. I simply follow suit. It is supposed to be better for the cow and calf. Since that is the way I have always done it, there's not much knowledge of anything different. If it makes you feel better, they bawl some when you do it by the almanac.
 

Frankie

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Actually the 205 number was more or less pulled out of a hat. A group of early beef performance researchers averaged the age of calves on their test and came up with 205. That has been a standard ever since.
 

backhoeboogie

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Frankie":2ew4s42h said:
Actually the 205 number was more or less pulled out of a hat. A group of early beef performance researchers averaged the age of calves on their test and came up with 205. That has been a standard ever since.

I have actually left a few to nurse that long. Usually they were oddball birthings and eventually grouped with a younger bunch.
 

dun

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SirLoin2":30laoknj said:
Frankie,
You are correct for those who micromanage their herd. :tiphat:
I was thinking more along the line of a commercial producer.
As a long time commercial producer I have weaned anywhere from 90 days to not at all and just let momma kick them off.
SL

Calf age is an important consideration when calculating weaning weight. Significant variation in weaning age or breeding season can affect the reliability of using weaning weight to measure cowherd productivity. One method of accounting for this variation is adjusting weaning weight to a constant age. A commonly used weaning age adjustment is 205 days. To adjust, simply calculate calf gain by subtracting the calf's birth weight from its actual weaning weight. Now, divide calf gain by calf age in days. This will be the average daily gain (ADG). Now, multiply ADG by 205 days for a uniform adjustment. To do this, it is important to know the birth date of each calf. This is usually not practical for most commercial producers.

How does one manage what isn;t measured?
Source: Animal Science Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida
http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/document_an129
 

dun

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SirLoin2":3f2eqbgd said:
Dun,

Re:
How does one manage what isn;t measured?
I’m not sure what you are asking. Could you elaborate please?
SL
If you don;t know when they were born or have a standard to compare them to at least at weaning, how do you know what cows are doing their job and which should be culled?
 

dun

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SirLoin2":gizo8678 said:
Commercial producers do have a “standard”. The calves are compared to a “standard” which has been gained through years of experience.
SL
Without knowing the birth date or pretty close you still don;t know if they're doing the job.
The commercial producers I know (150-350 head) know what cow does what and when the calves are born.
Maybe better managment and more people wouldn;t be whining about no making any money
 

dun

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SirLoin2":28nbo30o said:
Dun,
Re:
Without knowing the birth date or pretty close you still don;t know if they're doing the job.”

Exactly how do you define “ doing the job”?
To a commercial producer “ doing the job” is putting a live healthy calf on the ground without any adverse effects to momma.

And then there is the safety factor that should always come first and that pretty well eliminates handling a newborn to weigh it with momma standing right there watching you weigh her calf.
Sorry my friend but I learned that lesson many many many years ago and I wouldn‘t ask an employee to do anything I wouldn‘t do myself.
So weighing a newborn in the field is out of the question for me! And should be for everyone else if they are in their right mind.

Back in the late 70s I had 10 cows and was weighing the 8th newborn.
I picked him up and put him in the back of my pickup, where I had a bathroom scale to weigh him. I got in, picked him up again and stepped on the scale and before I could read the scale he let out a holler and momma joined us in the back of the pickup, over the tailgate. She landed on all fours and sent me over the cab only to land on the hood and then on the ground. While lying under my truck trying to catch my breath is when I decided the birth weight was just not that important.
How do those commercial producers that you know obtain the birth weight?

“Maybe better managment “ could also cut down on the number of injuries and deaths that occur each year while handling cattle. Ya think?

SL

There's more to it then just getting a calf on the gournd. That's the second step. The cow weaning a heavy enough calf for the inputs is the third part. You don;t have to weigh each calf but you should at least know when it was born and who's calf it is
 

MoGal

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Jeanne: I looked and the sign was in the heart and was gonna post that I bet they did a lot of bawling.... saw where you reposted a little farther down and said that. I've found they do a lot of bawling when the sign is in the head or the heart. I've found the knees to the feet are preferred.

We usually wean at between 7 and 8 months. I want the cows to have at least 60 days before they calve again.

I can't imagine not knowing calving dates but maybe its a "location" thing. I mean if you have to allow 50 to 100 acres per cow then perhaps you maybe wouldn't know exactly when they calved.
 

Stocker Steve

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KNERSIE":154oic93 said:
In a drought I have weaned everything 4 months and older in the past, but then they need special care and attention to make sure they continue to grow. As a generalisation, in a forage only system, try and let them nurse atleast 7 months if at all possible.

Obviously dairy calves get weaned very early, so it is possible if not desirable.
Before grain went up there was some folks moving to very early weaning of beef calves followed by limit feeding of grain.
I have purchased a lot of 250 to 350# calves for backgrounding. They do OK but not great on a mostly mixed alfalfa hay diet - - 1.5 to 2.5 ADG typically.
I think forage only is the key point here for young rumens.
 

KNERSIE

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Stocker Steve":2vasfbqm said:
KNERSIE":2vasfbqm said:
In a drought I have weaned everything 4 months and older in the past, but then they need special care and attention to make sure they continue to grow. As a generalisation, in a forage only system, try and let them nurse atleast 7 months if at all possible.

Obviously dairy calves get weaned very early, so it is possible if not desirable.
Before grain went up there was some folks moving to very early weaning of beef calves followed by limit feeding of grain.
I have purchased a lot of 250 to 350# calves for backgrounding. They do OK but not great on a mostly mixed alfalfa hay diet - - 1.5 to 2.5 ADG typically.
I think forage only is the key point here for young rumens.

Alfalfa is a different matter altogether, in my opinion just about the best feed for cattle there is. I should have been more clear, with forage only I meant turn them out to eat whatever there is available and under my conditions between weaning and calving again it isn't much.

Most anything can be done but it takes extra inputs.
 

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