The Advantages of Yard Weaning Calves

Beef + Lamb NZ

Type: Research Paper
Knowledge level: Advanced

Farm Table says:

This research article looks at the advantages of yard weaning calves and looks at the costs and performance aspects of why it can be beneficial for producers over paddock weaning.


What is the problem?

Reports and studies showed that yard wean offers more advantages compared to the paddock wean. As a corollary, this fact sheet detailed the comparison between the yard and paddock weaning calves to showcase the benefits from yard weaning.

What did the research involve?

For the Hickling farm trial that lasted for 6 and a half days, calves were split into 2 groups and weighed in before and after the yard weaning trial. The cows were removed to another part of the farm and were weaned at approximately 140 days old with seven bales of silage feed and three hours of labor.

For the Munro farm trial that lasted for 12 days, 40 calves were weaned at approximately 150 days old. The feed included hay and silage from a rack twice a day, morning and night with water. Another 40 calves were weaned then.

The advantages and costs were based on a research by Australia’s Beef CRC (Cooperative Research Centre) and a 1997 Australian trial.

What were the key findings?

● Gisborne-Wairoa farm trials

1. Grant Hickling’s farm trial
1.1 Over the 6 and a half day trial, results showed that the yard weaned calves (10kg) gained more weight than the paddock weaned calves (0.5kg).
1.2 Moreover, according to Hickling, the paddock weaned calves were wild but the yard weaned ones were very quiet.

2. Mark Munro’s farm trial
2.1 Over 11 days of post-weaning, the paddock weaned calves (20kg) had gained more liveweight than the yard weaned calves (15kg).
2.2 However, at 73 days of post-weaning, the yard weaned calves had gained 20kg while the paddock weaned calves gained 10kg. This stemmed from their rotational grazing system, with shifts every 3.5 days.
2.3 According to Munro’s observation, the yarned weaned calves were friendlier, quieter, and improved the temperament of all the calves.

● Advantages and Costs

1. The research by Australia’s Beef Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) showed that yard weaned cattle compared to paddock weaned cattle had higher weight gain in the first month and over the first 90 days.
2. The trials’ results showed temperament of all cattle improves with good yard weaning.
3. A 1997 Australian trial showed that yard weaned calves had half the disease rate of paddock weaned calves because of the stress-free ambiance.
4. It allows early weaning that enables flexibility in feed deficit situations or very dry seasons.
5. A 1997 Australian study showed that over 90 days, the extra growth from yard weaning are more easily paid for the extra feed and labor costs than paddock weaning.

Final comment

Yard weaning is conclusively a better system than paddock weaning as accorded by the results. In totality, the calves through yard weaning get more used to human, minimizes stress, easier handling to farmers, minimize the potential damage to people and equipment, and enables early weight gain because of their nurtured flexibility.

2012 - New Zealand - Beef + Lamb NZ
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