Low-Stress Weaning

A lot of producers look forward to weaning with nothing but dread because it’s so often a bad experience for them, their cows, and sometimes their facilities. Many producers can tell stories about their corrals being torn down by the cows post-weaning, and not being able to sleep for three or four nights after weaning due to bawling cows and calves. Also, weaning can be an extremely high-stress experience for the calves and the short-term effect on health and performance can be significant. For example, it is known that the stress of abrupt weaning increases fatal secondary bacterial respiratory infections and average daily gains can be seriously compromised. Conventional Weaning The conventional belief is that weaning is a difficult, traumatic experience, and that the cows and calves are going to want to get back together. Therefore, we need to do it in a sturdy corral. And here’s the irony: If we believe that’s the way it’s going to be it probably will; it all starts with our mindset. But it needn’t be that way. Low-stress Weaning Weaning can be done low stress, but it takes a different mindset. The low-stress belief is that weaning is only traumatic and stressful because we make it so. If left alone, cows will wean their calves naturally and with no fuss and no post-weaning sickness or weight loss, and they are more than likely happy to be rid of their six to eight month old 500-600 pound calves. And that’s the way it should be when we do it. The prob

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