Saturday, August 27, 2016

Farmer's Q & A: How Do We Wean Our Calves?

It happens between all mothers and their offspring at some point.  Separation.  It's a time of change, especially here on the farm.  The trick is to this passage is to make it as trauma-free as possible on both the momma cows and their calves.  The mommas are already pregnant (or so we hope), and it's time for the babies to get on real food and grain.  My hubby, Tall Guy, puts a lot of thought in to the question, "How do we wean our calves?"

Weaning Calves

We started our little herd last April.  Bubba, the neighbor's bull, went a courtin', and we waited, ok, and sometimes watched just to make sure ALL the girls were getting the same attention.

Weaning Calves

Bubba is on your left in this picture.

Weaning Calves

A few months later, the vet and her team came out to do a pregnancy check, and 7 of the 8 girls' sticks had a + on them!


Can you imagine cows peeing on a stick?

You got me, Peeps.  You can use ultrasounds,  (Sorry about the glare!)

Weaning Calves

but the tried and true way to preg check a heifer cow is to get out the glove that goes up to your shoulder, and put your hand and arm where no hand and arm have gone before.  It doesn't hurt the momma, it can hurt or pinch the vet's arm, but once she/he is in there, the vet can give us a fairly accurate assessment of how far along the momma is in her pregnancy.

Weaning Calves

Next, we waited.  The calves were all due between mid January and the first of March.  At the end of that time we had 6 healthy calves:  3 bulls and 3 heifers.  We had two come breach, and one did not survive.  Our growing herd flourished, and when we finally let them all out to pasture this spring, they all kicked up their heals and enjoyed the fresh grass.  Tall Guy and I love watching our cows out in the pasture.

"What is my name?"  Her name is now Cocoa....

Weaning Calves

and this youngest bull calf is Hershey!

Weaning Calves

So now it is the beginning of fall, and these cute cuddly calves are weighing in at 500 to 650 pounds! We didn't want to wean them during our county fair, and then we scooted west for a vacay after the fair, so TG wanted to wait until now to wean them.

Want to know a secret?

Do you really want to know exactly what determined when TG would wean the calves?

Hold on to your scientific hats..............Here it comes..........

You can pick up this wealth of information at almost any farm store you come across or you can order next year's copy here.  I kid you not; this wonderful old book that Ben Franklin started 200+ years ago is still a valuable part of our lives.  Everything you would want to know about weather, gardening, livestock raising, and too many more tidbits to mention.

Speaking of mention......Did I mention to you that the day the OFA recommended best to wean calves was also the day we hosted a wrap-up end-of-the-year party for our 4-H club?  Oye!  TG brought the calves over to our tool shed where they will stay at least until we figure out who is showing who for 4-H next year.  The mommas just stayed in the pasture.  For those of you who don't know, weaning calves can be a bit, uhm, noisy at the start.  The calves start missing their mommas about lunch time, and about evening the mommas are missing their calves because their udders are full.  I'm not gonna lie, it does tug at the heart strings, but in just a few days all is well and quiet with the world, and both mommas and calves start a new phase of their lives.  The calves start eating more corn and grass hay so they can have a healthy start to the next stage of their growing, and the mommas have a bit of a break until January/February 2017 when the next group with be due.

Do you remember how hard it was to wean your children?

Is there anything else you would like to know about this process of weaning calves?

I love hearing from you and understanding your take-away from Farmer's Q & A post!

Until next time, Peeps, have a great day, 
and make a positive difference in 
someone else's life!

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