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Fenceline Weaning
Weaning calves used to be a stressful time for the calves, the cows, and us. This was also the time when we placed the calves in the feedlot and fed them hay until the spring green-up. We would spend the next couple of months feeding and doctoring calves. Fenceline weaning has simplified the entire process. The majority of the stress on the calves is from the separation. By weaning calves across the fence from their mothers, they can still see their mothers and their anxiety is greatly reduced. Plus, they can continue to graze in the pasture, so no expensive feed, and very few sick calves. We have made it many years without any sick calves.
Another great tool I learned from my Grandmother was to wean on a waning moon. This comes right out of the Farmer’s Almanac and matches up weaning time with the cow’s natural milk production cycle. It’s all about gravity. Just ask any wise dairyman when their cows’ greatest milk production occurs. They will tell you that it’s around the full moon. And conversely, the least milk production is around the new moon. We have noticed that the cows dry up quicker and don’t fight the fences when we wean on a waning moon. The calves will bawl for a day or two, then go right to grazing and forget all about their mothers.
We try to wean our calves when they are older (8-10 months). These few extra months help to boost the calves` immune system and keep the cows from becoming obese. With easy fleshing cows, we find ourselves looking for ways to put pressure on them, rather than prop them up. Great genetics and a few “old school” tips sure make this “new age” ranching more enjoyable and profitable!

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