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Author Topic: When can I reunite cow and calf?  (Read 323 times)

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
When can I reunite cow and calf?
« on: July 17, 2021, 09:16:29 pm »
Rora is now eight months old so she's being weaned and learning to be haltered. How long do I have to keep her away from her mother until the milk has completely gone?
TIA

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: When can I reunite cow and calf?
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2021, 09:34:34 pm »
Hmmm, if we were talking about a Jersey cow, I would say absolute minimum two months.  It takes a good month for them to dry off from being hand- or machine-milked, and the urge to feed their own calf could maybe un-dry them if you tried it too soon. 

When we recombined Flare and Hillie, Hillie was still giving us milk so we fitted a Quiet Wean nose flap to Flare (which is not unkind to calf or mother) just to be sure she didn't suckle.  It worked brilliantly, and we now wean this way from the outset - but our system is completely different to yours, and our cows are more dairified too.  (We have Northern Dairy Shorthorn x Jerseys now.  The NDS is much more similar to a Shetland, but ours have a lot of Jersey in too.)

I suspect that two months with a Shetland cow drying off after 8 months lactating would be perfectly safe, but would hesitate to suggest less without any relevant experience.  Hopefully others with pure Shetland cattle can add to my input :)
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

landroverroy

  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: When can I reunite cow and calf?
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2021, 09:37:15 pm »
I rarely physically do anything to wean my calves.
I have Herefords, Belted Galloways and Highlands, and find the mothers naturally wean the calves themselves by the time the calf is about 9 months old. The only time I've found the calf still suckling beyond then is if the cow isn't pregnant with her next calf.
Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: When can I reunite cow and calf?
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2021, 09:45:56 pm »
Interestingly we weaned a 9 month old steer in March, kept him separate from the cows until about a month ago but then put him back to run with them over summer (sold his mates but kept him as he hadnít grown well). Caught him snatching milk off a cow that wasnít even his mother last week  :rant:

PipKelpy

  • Joined Mar 2019
  • North Shropshire
  • Dreamer with docile cattle and sheep!
Re: When can I reunite cow and calf?
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2021, 08:07:43 am »
Juniper would get fed up of them at 7 months but weaned not always willingly at 8/9 month's. After she had 2nd calf, Bonnie, I stupidly put her 13 month 1st heifer with her as I was short of grass. I was not impressed seeing both having a feed!!

Knickers had Edward for a year but she was empty so it saved grazing with not having to separate them. Effy is 7 month old and Mary feeds her when SHE wants her. She's due to calve December so as long as she's weaned with plenty of ready  for Mary to get herself ready that's all that matters.

Halter train the cattle to keep them quiet but watch your back when they come a'bulling! Give them all names even those you plan to eat. Always be calm. Most importantly, invest in wellies with steel toe caps and be prepared for the clever cow who knows where the toe caps end!!

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: When can I reunite cow and calf?
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2021, 08:54:40 am »
Reading PipKelpy's story about a grown heifer coming back onto her mother makes me think it's worth using the Quiet Wean nose tags anyway, because the calf learns that it can't suckle and seems to remember and not try to get the teat in its mouth.  When Hillie and Flare ran together with Flare as an adult, Flare would sometimes stand as though suckling, with her head dipped towards the udder, but she never attempted to get the teat, even when Hillie's new calf was suckling alongside.  So I surmised that standing like that was comforting, even without the actual suckling.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: When can I reunite cow and calf?
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2021, 08:57:49 am »
I rarely physically do anything to wean my calves.
I have Herefords, Belted Galloways and Highlands, and find the mothers naturally wean the calves themselves by the time the calf is about 9 months old. The only time I've found the calf still suckling beyond then is if the cow isn't pregnant with her next calf.

On ex-BH's farm, with around 35 head of cattle, ordinarily most would be taken off by about 9 months anyway but some would be kept with the cows longer.  For the most part it was never an issue. but we did have a few cows milked right through and on one occasion, with a Charolais cow, the previous calf kept suckling and the cow didn't manage things, so new calf wasn't getting enough.  I ended up rearing that calf on Hillie to give her a catch-up. 
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: When can I reunite cow and calf?
« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2021, 09:01:18 am »
I rarely physically do anything to wean my calves.
I have Herefords, Belted Galloways and Highlands, and find the mothers naturally wean the calves themselves by the time the calf is about 9 months old. The only time I've found the calf still suckling beyond then is if the cow isn't pregnant with her next calf.

On ex-BH's farm, with around 35 head of cattle, ordinarily most would be taken off by about 9 months anyway but some would be kept with the cows longer.  For the most part it was never an issue. but we did have a few cows milked right through and on one occasion, with a Charolais cow, the previous calf kept suckling and the cow didn't manage things, so new calf wasn't getting enough.  I ended up rearing that calf on Hillie to give her a catch-up.

It is also worth mentioning that suckler cows are more likely to self-wean whereas most dairy types will keep on producing until demand ceases.  I milked Hillie through for 18 month+ lactations a couple of times, there is a Buddhist community only breeds its Jersey when they have to, and have been known to get 6 years' milk off one calving!  Our current NDS x Jersey cows are both still producing having calved last August. 

Where Shetlands sit on the suckler - - - dairy cow axis, I am not sure! 
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: When can I reunite cow and calf?
« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2021, 10:15:21 am »
I've ordered some Quiet Wean thingys. TBH, my cows are so fat that keeping the calves with them isn't an issue and they do self wean. Mainly I wanted Rora in to halter train herbut she's doen so well, I've let her out with her mum this morning but will bring both in at night for more "lessons".
It's very quiet here  :eyelashes:

macgro7

  • Joined Feb 2016
  • Leicester
Re: When can I reunite cow and calf?
« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2021, 11:46:57 am »
It's very quiet here  :eyelashes:
It's the beach weather we are having this week ;)

Growing loads of fruits and vegetables! Raising dairy goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits on 1/2 acre in the middle of the city of Leicester, using permaculture methods.

 

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