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Author Topic: Weaning calves  (Read 5416 times)

Miss Piggy

  • Joined Mar 2011
  • Cardigan Bay, Ceredigion
Weaning calves
« on: September 16, 2011, 11:46:21 am »
Hi all,
I have had to wean my 4 month old dexter calves from their mothers.  The one calf was feeding from her own mum and then also going and sneaking in and feeding from the other mum when her own calf was feeding. Despite feeding the mum up separately with extra food she was being dragged down and loosing weight whist the greedy calf was putting on twice as much weight as the other calf. We do not have the land available at the moment to separate the two cows and calves. Rather than take the calves away completely we have them penned up in a large corral in the corner of the field and it seems to be working well, they can still nuzzle up to each other through the fence but obviously cannot feed. I believe this is less stressful for the cow and calf, particularly if we totally separated them they would still be able to hear each other. My question is, how long do I need to keep them separated before I can safely release them altogether again without the calves trying to suckle and re stimulate milk production.  :cow: :cow:
« Last Edit: September 16, 2011, 11:48:17 am by Miss Piggy »
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robert waddell

  • Guest
Re: Weaning calves
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2011, 12:03:11 pm »
the cows should dry of naturally but not at 4 months of lactation 6 or 8 is the norm
if you want them all together there is spiked nose bands you can get to stop the calve sucking most farm supply shops sell these :farmer:

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Weaning calves
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2011, 12:13:13 pm »
BH says give it a week but isn't sure.  We're commercial beef farmers so weaned stirks get turned out together and wouldn't be back with their mothers for months if ever.

It's harder if the weaned calves see other calves suckling, so at least you wouldn't have that problem.

You can get devices to fit in the noses of animals that won't stop suckling, but hopefully it wouldn't come to that.

Hopefully someone who knows more than us will be along shortly!

Oh, Robert beat me to it.  Well, BH says the same, that left to their own devices the cows will dry themselves off at around 8 months - but it seems to not be always the case.  The calf my house cow is currently rearing was up for adoption because her own mother had not dried off, still had her last year's calf suckling and wouldn't let the new calf get enough milk.  (Long story why we still had last year's calves with that group and couldn't at that point move them.)

The other thing BH said was that he wouldn't do what you have done because the calves will just climb the fence.  I say, if you can get them weaned without the two days (and nights!) constant bawling, well done you!  :D
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 cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Miss Piggy

  • Joined Mar 2011
  • Cardigan Bay, Ceredigion
Re: Weaning calves
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2011, 01:08:05 pm »
Hi, and thanks to both. Ideally we would have preferred to let the cows dry off naturally at 6-8 months but was advised by vet to intervene as the cow suckling both calves ( and the calf that just latched on is a big one) was loosing condition rapidly. We have had them fenced seperately for a week now with no fence climbing fortunately, that was a concern but we have been able to observe them closely from the house for signs of any problems. So far touch wood no problem. They seem content to just sit next to each other on the other side of the gates. They are strong galvanised gates. We would ideally like them all to run together again, maybe in a week or so when mums milk has dried up we could try them together, possibly with the nose attachments for a few days. The calves are eating good quality hay and calf pellets.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Weaning calves
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2011, 03:15:10 pm »
Sounds like a plan.  Please let us know how you get on!
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 cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Miss Piggy

  • Joined Mar 2011
  • Cardigan Bay, Ceredigion
Re: Weaning calves
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2011, 03:35:40 pm »
Will do Sally, so appreciate your help and that of Roberts. You are both obviously so experienced and knowledgable and its great you are all so willing to help others. You see the same names cropping up all the time with obviously sound sensible advice. I always enjoy reading the posts of you all I hope one day to be able to pass some sound advice on. You never stop learnimg though do you.  :cow:

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Weaning calves
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2011, 04:25:38 pm »
You never stop learnimg though do you.

Never!

Plus, there are some things I know a bit about and can share my experiences - and others where I am new to it all and am seeking help and advice from others on the forum.  (And I've had some good advice from you in the past, Miss Piggy!)  I think it's great that we have different experiences and skills and can share and pool our knowledge. 

I got a bit of a wake-up call yesterday.  A local farmer who I think a lot of (she farms beef and sheep and has kept Shetland sheep for 10 years or so) was saying how galling it is when people who have only been in Shetlands for 20 years are passing themselves off as experts.  In her view, you're only an  expert when you have not only your own lifetime experience but also that handed down from your parents, and their parents before them...  Crikey, I thought.  I don't know how I have the front to pontificate on the sheep forum on TAS... 

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 cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Miss Piggy

  • Joined Mar 2011
  • Cardigan Bay, Ceredigion
Re: Weaning calves
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2011, 06:33:02 pm »
I think you are a very wise lady from reading all your posts. It is amazing though how we accumulate knowledge and experience without even realising it. You can be a total beginner at something and know nothing and then further down the line  maybe weeks, months or even years  when you still  consider you dont know much, you hear someone ask a question or make a statement and you think "blimey I thought everyone knew that or how come they dont know that or even maybe thats a silly thing to say and it makes you stop and realise how much knowledge you have gained in maybe quite a short time and at one time you would have never known the answer. It is very easy to forget sometimes that what may sound a silly question to you is probably something you didnt know a short while ago but you gained the knowledge without even realising it and havnt always had it. Hope that all makes sense, thats me pontificating now!!

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Weaning calves
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2011, 01:21:50 am »
Makes perfect sense.  It reminded me that I was once told that the best teacher can sometimes be someone who has only just learned themselves - they can still remember what it felt like to not know / be able to do it and how they got past that themselves.

Another saying I like is that a wise person learns from other people's mistakes, a fool doesn't learn from his (or her) own.  So, since a lot of what we do here is share our triumphs and trip-ups, that makes us all pretty wise, huh.  :D
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 cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

lill

  • Joined May 2011
Re: Weaning calves
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2011, 01:05:11 pm »
the person that learns themselves are far better than those who have been taught the trade by parents, Granny's, great Granny's. To have the interest to teach ones self and pass on the information is truly wonderful. Tought by parents, you only learn the wasy that they have done their activities and did not have to think for yourself. I am not knocking "handed down by parents" theme here, but please remember this is just my opinion.

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Weaning calves
« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2011, 03:44:04 pm »
Our vet reckons that newbies are easier for him to work with in a lot of ways that the many generations farmer, who may have learnt old, out of date ways from his parents and grandparents and not be willing to change. At least us newbies are a blank canvas. Or maybe he just said that to make me feel better  ;D

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Weaning calves
« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2011, 04:11:04 pm »
I think there are strengths and weaknesses in both.

Yes, newbies are receptive to new ideas and probably prepared to always take the vet's advice.  For a while, at least...

Not all vets, but some, are very dismissive of the handed-down-for-generations wisdom.  What I have found with BH is that more often than not there turns out to be a lot of truth in the old wisdom.  Quite often the whys and wherefores have been lost (if they were ever known) but the techniques and practises work - and those who try to impose their own new order founder.

It isn't always true, of course - and it's hard to distinguish the gold from the lead.

So, as I say, I find that there are strengths and weaknesses in newcomers and in old-timers in equal measure.  But I do think that if it all goes wrong, I'd put my money on the old-timers to find a way out of it.
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 cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

 

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