Mind your young stock's weaning process!

Mind your young stock's weaning process!
By Hanneke Officer, Veterinarian, Anexa Vets

While AB is still in full swing, it often coincides with weaning times for spring born calves. Another job to do however a very important one. Up until this point, milk has kept calves happy and growing while supplemented with meal – are they ready to be off milk and out on grass?

Consider the following when preparing for weaning:

  • Weighing calves gives you the best information when deciding whether a calf is ready. If you don’t have the equipment, we provide a technician service which is quick, easy and worth the money for the information you get.

  • If you’re not weighing, using a weigh band can be helpful to get a rough idea of calf weight. This, on top of average daily meal consumption, will help to make the right decision. The table below shows guidelines for LWT targets at 3 months based on mature cow liveweight – base this as specific for your herd.

  • Drenching: oral drenches are the most effective for calves:
    • Select a combination oral drench (like Arrest C) and follow the instructions on the pack closely.
    • Make sure the drench gun is set for the right weight,
    • Check the expiry date and storage recommendations
    • There can be significant size differences within a mob at this age – adjust the dose accordingly.
  • Weaning is stressful – don’t plan all jobs in one day. Eg don’t wean off milk, drench, vaccinate and transport all on the same day. Gradual transition is important.

  • Vaccinations (6 in 1, Lepto, BVD, IBR and Salmonella): remember to plan vaccinations suited to circumstances and locations. If it’s more convenient to inject them at home, make sure they get their booster vaccinations before they leave the property and therefore the initial injection a month before that. This timing also needs to suit minimum age of calves. If you’re unsure of the recommendations, ask your vet.

  • Trace elements (Selenium, Copper, B12): calves grow fast and benefit from help to reach target liveweights. Trace elements play a large role in this. To identify base level, it’s useful to have some blood samples taken to test levels at weaning and make a trace element plan from there. Trace element supplementation options incorporate a range of injection and oral products. Talk to your vet about the option most suitable to your system.
It is a good idea to develop a young stock health plan - An aid for you and/or your grazier to plan jobs in advance, ensure things are on target and that nothing is forgotten.

Date Added: Wednesday, 6th November 2019