Times have changed, not long ago it was common to read about the uncertainty of weaning and pre-conditioning practices on the ranch. Back then the cost of gain for that process was pretty close to the value of the added weight. Man, have times changed!
By Mike John, Director of Health Track Operations When I first started working with MFA and Health Track 14 years ago, it was common to read about the uncertainty of weaning and pre-conditioning practices on the ranch. Back then the cost of gain for that process was pretty close to the value of the added weight. Man, have times changed!
1. Do as much processing prior to weaning as possible. It’s all about reducing stress.
a. Vaccinations – getting the calves back with Momma after the shots reduces stress and improves the level of immunity.i. BEST – Two rounds completed at least 10 days prior to weaning
1. 4-5 way Viral – 2 shots, MLV at least for booster
2. Pasteurella – one shot, first round
3. Blackleg – 2 shots
b. Castration – earlier the betteri. BEST – at or near birth
1. Implant by 3 months
c. Dehorn – button removal creates least stress
2. Get them on feed and waterer as quickly as possible
a. BEST - creep feed makes it possible to simply sort from cows, pull the feeder into the lot and lift the gates and the calves already know how to eat
i. Substantial weight gains pay significantly in this market
iii. Creep gates into feeders – hand feed
b. BEST - 2-3 lbs./hd/day should be your target weight gain, especially in this market
i. Use highly efficient complete pellets since consumption is limited by body weight.
3. Stop calves from nursing, dry up cows
a. Suckling preventers – placed in calves nose a few days prior to weaning can be a very low stress option.
b. Lock up calves allow fence contact with cows
c. Lock up cows, allow fence contact with calves
d. I have actually witnessed calves weaned with a single strand of poly wire in the right conditions. (Calves naïve to hot wire will most likely fail at this method)
Based on our health database, if you follow the best practices listed above the chances of have sick calves post-weaning are almost zero. In addition, it will require much less antibiotic and sick pen time at their next home which makes them more valuable in lots of ways all the way to the carcass value.
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