Fall Weaning: Stay or Ship

11942September 1, 2015

By Kevin Hill, D.V.M.

In the previous post, we talked about the importance of recognizing and managing stress for successful weaning. In the transition from ranch to feedyard, each calf will be removed from its mother, loaded on a truck, likely hauled hundreds of miles, unloaded into a new environment and co-mingled with new cattle. If all of these stressors occur within 24 hours, it will be a very difficult day for your calves and they will face a high risk for sickness and poor performance.

According to data from Superior Livestock Auctions, producers who have the feed, facilities and expertise to effectively manage a 45- to 60-day weaning program will be well paid for their efforts. In addition to the $10/cwt. premium for vaccinating and weaning, efficient feeders also will realize the added value of gain over feed costs.

If you don’t have the feed or facilities to wean calves on your own premises, consider retaining ownership and using a proven calf backgrounder to do the weaning work for you. This puts the increased profits from preconditioning and backgrounding in your pocket, and then you sell reputation calves prepared to perform at the highest level. If you would like a spreadsheet to help analyze these potential profits, email me at kevin.hill@merck.com.

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