Any tips for weaning? First time to manage calf rearing.
calf weaning strategy
Change one thing at a time and do it gradually. Things need to be done gradually.
This season, I took milk off from the calves without reducing slowly, they were calling me all sorts of names (hate to know what they were saying to me) after one day starvation(?), I had to bring back their favorite white sugar juice, gave them one week slow reducing before taking their milk away from them. You gotta do it slowly for sure if you don't want to get abused from these guys. Calf lover from Southland.
Do it slowly over a week or so. Just cut them back by 300-500ml/calf/day.
Keep an eye out for anything that gets the runs or starts to look sickly, could be nutritional scours.
Just be consistent and trust your gut... If they seem okay then keep reducing until you get to 0L/day.
Remember to keep decent grass in front of them so they have something to stay full on, otherwise they complain like all hell breaking loose
-Know or set the weaning target percentage, this will encourage you to feed them well (drink milk in time, have enough water and other feed supplements all the time).
-set the weaning duration eg at 75 days.
-Set the weaning weight eg a qualifying calf should have 85 KGS and above at 75 days of weaning.
-Feed calves milk and other supplements according to their age/days ie from day 1 to day 7 ,2 litres, 58 to 60 days 1.5 litres,day 61 to 62, 1 litre, day 63 off milk (develop feeds intakes). At young and mid age, they drink more as they grow to off milk you reduce milk.
Note, rumen develop with in 3 or 4 days after calf is born so introduce other feed supplements like concetrates to calves. These should be served at time of drinking milk, as soon as calf finishes milk , it goes direct to supplements because its oesophagus is already activated wants to eat more.
Note, offmilk is a period of transition, a lot of mooing, some get stressed and fall sick, when introducing only feeds at this time, for first 3 days you can choose to give them small volumes to reduce feeds wastage, and increase later when now used.
-Identify slow growing calves, inject them vitamins like combecen to boost their appetite so that can gain body weight.
-Treat calves early, sick calves will give you bad results (low body weight) this will affect your breeding time.
-Have space to move your weaned calves.
- Have your handling stock / weighing scales calibrated, be in good shape to give you accurate weights and heights.
-Have a recorder for calf weights and heights.
-Give your unqualifying / left behind calves ( those below your set weaning weight) more milk and other feeds for your desired period till they gain weight and ready for weaning.
-If they still fail to gain weight, you can sell them as your revenue stream.
All the best