Weaning beef calves

NSW Government - Department of Primary Industries

Type: Webpage
Knowledge level: Intermediate

Farm Table says:

Handy weaning tips for beef cattle, both in a normal season and in drought.

As noted by the NSW DPI:

Weaning and weaning management are the most effective tools to manipulate important factors in beef cattle management. These factors include the breeding efficiency and fertility of the cow herd, feed utilisation, animal behaviour, future carcase merits of steers and future breeding efficiency of heifer weaners.

This article focuses on the importance of weaning for herd fertility, in drought situations and walks through the calf age at weaning (8-10 months of age generally).

The webpage provides findings from  research by NSW Agriculture and Beef Co-operative Research Centre, Armidale, has highlighted the effects of feed restrictions on the calf’s future fattening pattern and carcase.

  • Severe feed restriction pre-weaning decreases the rate of muscle and fat deposition. When cattle are re-fed, muscle mass may not catch up to that expected for the animal’s genotype and fattening may start prematurely.
  • At the same carcase weight cattle severely held back early in life, and then well fed, may grow more slowly and be fatter than they would have been if they had been continuously well fed.
  • Feed restriction after weaning also reduces the rate of muscle and fat deposition. However, on re-feeding muscle mass usually catches up to that expected of the genotype. At the same carcase weight these cattle may be leaner than those continuously well fed.

The article walks through yard weaning, abrupt separation, gradual separation, and creep weaning.

Australia - NSW Government - Department of Primary Industries
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