Weaning Weight: Misconstrued.

Misconstrue:  interpret erroneously I know you are wondering what I mean by misconstrued weight. Weaning weight is the most used and abused indicator of profitability ever devised! Yes, it is the pay weight for most producers, but does that certify its validity as an indicator of profitability? Then how did it gain such prominence as the supreme arbiter of profit? Partly, for the above reason. Pay weight. A very high percentage of cattlemen in this country sell calves off the cow and this weight, the heavier the better, is important to them, at least in their constricted view. Because this is their largest yearly check much weight (pun intended) is given to this sale. Before going any further I need to explain there are two conflicting weaning weights to consider. One is the 205-day weight mainly used by seedstock producers for their breed association records and for tracking individual animals and herd progress. The second, and most widely used, is the selling weight at the sale barn which should be called the "coffee shop" weaning weight. This weight has absolutely no standards. At the coffe

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3 thoughts on “Weaning Weight: Misconstrued.

  1. Enjoyed your article Chip. I especially appreciated your statement as follows:
    “Once again, does it [weaning weight] validate profitability? Nope, just, “braggin rights”. How true…! Thanks Chip.

  2. Bill,
    I have a couple questions about your culling practice. What are your cow weights and the percent of calf weaned per mothers weight? Especially the cows you cull? Are your cow weights creeping up? It is admirable to keep weaning weights close to average, but it might not be the best tactic. There are other things that are tightly tied to profit that will show up when changing from production per animal to production per acre. The basis of our business is the land and our production and profit should be based on such. Production per animal can be misleading.


  3. I was told years ago that the “truth to any debate always lies somewhere in the middle” I believe that most of the cattlemen here in the Midwest section of the US have learned that trying to grow big framed cows to produce heavy weaning weight calves is a recipe for disaster. Big cows mean poor conception and conception rate is the most important record that can be measured on a cattle operation.

    Having said that, I can tell you that we try to maintain a herd of cows running between 4 and 5 frame score that are easy fleshing. We select bulls with that goal in mind. Next spring, when we run the fall born calves through in preparation for weaning and weigh them, we’ll note that out of a 120, ten middle aged cows we’ll have weaning weights 50 pounds or more less then the average. If our records show that it’s the second or third year that these mature cows have done that, then they need to go. That’s where use of weaning weights becomes a tool, not a crutch.

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