Weaning is a stressful time for your cows and calves, and generally anytime your animals are stressed, you’ll be experiencing some kind of stress as well. That’s why some producers are turning to fenceline weaning. In this video from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Mark Cressman of Cressman Cattle Company shares his process for fenceline weaning and what he likes about it.
(This video is no longer available. I tried to find another link to it, but couldn’t. Sorry about that! It seems that Cressman Cattle Company completely destocked their operation at an auction in May of 2016)
If you’re looking for production and profit reasons for trying this system, there is data showing that fenceline weaned calves gain more weight in the first 10 weeks than traditionally weaned calves. There is also data showing no difference at all. The difference seems to depend on the quality of pasture that animals are grazing during the weaning period. For those animals finished in feedlots, additional research shows that both groups seem to even out in the long run.
Whether or not it works for you depends a lot on your operation and your ability to provide two adjacent pastures for your cows and calves. Producers who separate cows and calves with electric fencing report that it works best if your cattle are accustomed to electric fencing. How you move your cattle to their new pastures is also important. Let your cows out first and give them time to settle and begin grazing. Then slowly let the calves out. This keeps them from running for Mom and gives them time to discover the electric fence.
In the end, you might just vote with Mark Cressman who says “Anytime it’s easier on the cattle, it’s easier on me. If I don’t have to treat any calves, I’m much happier.”