The methods and time of weaning play a vital role in beef production by influencing the weaning weight of calves, as well as the condition of the cows.
Timeous and effective weaning enables a cow to calve every year by allowing her sufficient time to regain her condition after weaning.
This, in turn, allows the farmer to produce as many calves as possible from his/ her breeding stock.
When to wean
The ideal weaning age of calves is between seven and eight months. Wean the calf before the cow’s condition score drops below 2,5.
During times of drought and poor feed supply, wean calves at a younger age (just before six months) to allow the cow to recover before winter starts.
In the eastern regions of SA, wean calves born during spring in early May, at the age of about seven to eight months. In western regions, wean calves born during spring in early June (also at seven to eight months), as the breeding season tends to be later in these regions. Calves should be weaned early only during times of severe drought or feed shortages, or else they will be slow growers and susceptible to disease.
Depending on the availability and cost of feed, the farmer must decide when to wean if the condition of a cow deteriorates rapidly, as a cow is more valuable than a very young calf.
How to wean
There are several weaning methods, and the method you use will depend on the conditions on your farm. Bear the following weaning methods in mind:
Source: Department of Agriculture.
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