Fertrell Blog

Reducing Weaning Stress

Over the course of their lifespan, animals encounter many different stressors. One of the earliest experiences is during the weaning process. This stress can affect both cows and calves. After spending all summer grazing together, it is time to separate cows and calves into different management groups and housing for the winter months.

By this time, the cows are getting ready to naturally wean their calves. They are large, forceful, and can be quite irritating! At this stage, the calves are potentially getting triple the amount of nutrients: from milk, the creep, and if you are bunk feeding, they can reach in there too. The calves are ready to transition to their next growth phase.

Although all animals are not the same and will have different reactions, here are some ideas to help manage weaning.

Free Choice Kelp

Start offering free choice kelp to the herd a couple of weeks before weaning. This will allow plenty of time for the cows and calves to consume the kelp and fully absorb the micro-nutrients and trace minerals. Nutrients found in kelp have been shown to have calming effects on animals.

Farmer’s Almanac

The Old Farmer’s Almanac provides guidance for many aspects of farming, including when an optimal time is to wean animals. Most months suggest two dates as prime weaning dates. The days are based on the moon phases to align with reducing stress and promote soothing energy.

Weaning Rings

Weaning rings are a helpful tool that allows the calf to stay with the cow during the transition period but prevents them from nursing. The rings tend to be plastic, flexible, and reusable which can be useful when there are multiple weaning periods throughout the year.

They are placed in the nostrils of the calf and removed once the calf is separated into a new pen. The weaning process takes about a week and allows the calf to have the comfort of its mom while it transitions away from milk. The ring does not get in the way of the calf eating grain, hay, or grazing.

Whatever method or combination of methods you decide to use, minimizing the stress on both the cow and calf is important during this transitional period. It will allow for quicker acclimation to the new herd groups and the next stages of production.

Rachel Teller
Written by Rachel Teller

About this Blog

The Fertrell Company blog is for farmers, backyard gardeners, and homesteaders alike. Learn from the experts on all things natural and organic for both soil and livestock.

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all