Savvy Advice for Calf Weaning and Receiving

MU Extension nutritionist offers tips on getting calves started right.

Published on: Oct 6, 2009
At the recent Thompson Farm Field Day near Spickard, Justin Sexten, University of Missouri Extension beef nutrition specialist, gave a presentation on common sense receiving and weaning tips. He notes that they are not anything new, but things that are often overlooked. Here's his list of reminders:

* Place feed bunks and water troughs on the fence line as calves tend to walk the fences and will be more apt to find them. Also, if you do across-fence weaning, place them on the fence that is closest to the cows as that is where the calves will spend the bulk of their time.

* If there is ever a time to spend a little money on small square bales, this is the time. Hay can get calves coming to the bunk and you can control how much of the hay that they are eating.

* Make sure to provide an energy-dense, high protein diet. Weaned calves will probably not consume large quantities of feed, so it is important to make sure that what they do eat is nutritionally valuable.

* Decrease dust by using grass traps or concrete lots for a short period.

* Add a coccidiostat. Even if you have never had a problem with coccidiosis, chances are that you will at some time.

* Do not use antibiotics in the feed to treat sickness (they can be effective in prevention, not treatment). If you have health outbreaks, treat them with appropriate injectable medications.

* Hand feeding is the best feed-delivery method. This allows for daily observation of the cattle and more accurate assessments of feed intake and health status. Twice daily feeding is best -- if time and labor permits.

Source: MU Extension