In our second run at fenceline weaning of calves, I can definitely say that we have accepted this procedure as the way to go. Our calves wean easier, stay on feed, do not appear stressed, and maybe most importantly since the barn is just down from our house, they don’t keep us up at night bawling. Take a look t 174C in the picture. He is a Rudder out of a Terrell daughter. This picture was taken 5 days into his weaning period. He’ll make somebody a really good bull one day. (You can claim him starting in October!)
This may be old hat to some of you experienced cowpokes, but its a big change around here. Ever tried to change the mind of a cattleman? We simply have the calves in the barn lot with plenty of feed, hay, and water. There’s a good gate and fence in between the calf and mama’s milk. The calves can get nose to nose with mama, but can’t nurse. I would like to say that I studied up on this method and made a conscious decision to go this route, but it’s simply not the case. As many things are in farm life, this was borne of necessity. Several months ago, I made the decision to wean off one calf in the set of two bull calf twins. (That has turned out to be a good decision too as both calves have performed better since). Given my fence and grass situation at the time, the only real choice I had was to close the gate between the calf and his dam. All through that process, which I expected to be horrible since I was weaning a 60 day old calf, I noticed how much less stressed the calf was. I also noticed how easy he went on feed…and never really seemed to loose that much weight.
We are from the old school. When weaning calves, you put them up in the lot with as many fences as possible between mama and baby. Both of them bawl for several days, the calf eventually looses his ability to bawl, and begins to squeak instead. We just accepted that the calves were going to loose alot of weight, some would get sick, we had to listen to them for days on end, and that it was going to be a generally traumatic time. It was the way it was done. Ever tried to change the mind of a cattleman?
As impossible as it may seem, our minds have now been changed for us. Fenceline weaning, when you have a sturdy-enough fence between mama and baby, is a vastly superior method. This second go at it…this time as a real management decision… has solidified that position. We will continue to do it this way, and nothing you can do or say will change our minds!