Early weaning: diet, vaccination | TheFencePost.com

Drought situations throughout the Midwest have some producers seeking at an early weaning plan for calves. Getting into consideration forage excellent and quantity and developing an early weaning nourishment and vaccination system, could perform for some producers in drought stricken locations, according to Rick Rasby, professor of animal science, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

In accordance to Rasby, weaning calves at 45 to 60 days of age is a feasible administration tactic in drought situations, and weaning calves at a few to five months is also an alternate if forage is scarce before fall, but a management approach for the calves is important.

“Regardless of weaning age, calves that start off consuming dry feed promptly right after separation from their dam have fewer incidences of morbidity and mortality than calves that do not try to eat for 24 to 48 hours soon after separation,” Rasby claimed.

Bunk and waterer top need to be altered for the calves, Rasby mentioned, and a creep feeder available 3 to 4 months prior to weaning can get calves started out on processed feeds, to enable with the weaning transition.

“It is crucial to get calves to try to eat as shortly (as probable) soon after currently being separated from their dam. If calves are creep fed prior to weaning, they will adapt rapidly to being separated from their dams,” Rasby claimed.

In accordance to Rasby, the starter ration should be fed right until the calves are consuming 4 to 5 lbs for every animal for every day, or 1 to 1.5 per cent of the overall body weight. This can acquire 10 to 14 days.

Along with the administration program, early weaning necessitates some added setting up on vaccinations.

Vaccinations this kind of as bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV), infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), parainfluenza three (PI3) and bovine viral diarrhea (BVD), offered about a thirty day period prior to weaning, with correct boosters at or in the vicinity of the time of weaning, are popular in cow-calf producers’ preconditioning systems, according to Russ Daly, DVM extension veterinarian at South Dakota Point out University.

Daly claims producers must however system on vaccinating early weaned calves.

“In the previous, researchers fearful that antibodies from colostrum would interfere with vaccine reaction. Extra latest do the job reveals that killed vaccines, modified dwell intranasal vaccines or adjuvanted modified stay vaccines employed in calves as young as a few months of age can secure in opposition to lively infection with viruses, these as BVDV,” Daly writes in an SDSU early weaning paper.


Daly suggests consulting a regional veterinarian, as switching the timing of a vaccination application can be demanding.

“The unique timing of respiratory vaccines (along with the typical Clostridium mixtures) is a thing finest talked over with your veterinarian,” Daly states.

However, Rasby does share some basic statements on preconditioning photographs:

If calves are observing respiratory vaccines for the very first time now, preferably they should really get that vaccine no a lot less than two weeks prior to weaning. Any vaccine, in particular the 1st dose, requires time to encourage the immune process prior to publicity (in this case, publicity to the pressure of weaning) — normally, the a lot more time allowed, the far better.

Pay back attention to vaccine booster doses and their timing. The very best immunological “bang for the buck” is when the booster dose is provided in the timeframe pointed out on the item label (generally three to four weeks following the original dose). Try to give boosters at that time irrespective of how shut to weaning the to start with dose was presented.

Calves that were presented respiratory vaccines at branding time are blessed with a bit additional adaptability. The reaction to a booster dose of vaccine is quicker than the response to the original dose. Boostering the vaccine at weaning time is an appropriate observe nevertheless, executing this even a few days prior to weaning would ensure a very good immune response on board when the calf is weaned.

David Lalman, professor and beef extension professional and Oklahoma Condition College, claims the most crucial time for early weaned calves is the initial two months.

“Calves must conquer the strain of weaning and learn to try to eat dry feed very swiftly. The initially ration should really be extremely palatable and higher in protein and electrical power, given that the total ration use will at to start with be smaller,” Lalman explained.

Lalman also suggests a creep feeder in the pasture prior to weaning, but points out that most calves won’t take in a great deal creep although still nursing.

“Remember that early-weaned calves are started off with a ration superior in electrical power and protein and are progressively modified to a grower-type ration as their complete consumption increases,” Lalman claims.

“In the circumstance of little 150- to 250-pound calves, you are getting on the purpose of mother and mother nature in phrases of changing milk and large-high quality pasture with feed or harvested forage, so the feed solution wants to be calf-acceptable. This can be a challenge with widespread ranch assets,” Lalman claimed.

The dietary management system requirements to be closely monitored and managed day-to-day.

“Feed intake, scours, hair coat, calves consuming dust or chewing wooden and fleshiness are things to keep an eye on. The calves should really be licking them selves and hair coat ought to be dazzling and fresh, not brown and stale on the lookout for black calves for case in point,” Lalman stated. “My suggestion would be to limit feed consumption after it reaches about 2 percent of physique fat to keep calves from obtaining much too fleshy. In our new experiments, we rather significantly fed the calves about all they would take in just to discover how a great deal they would take in in comparison to their contemporaries still nursing their moms. As a outcome, the early weaned calves were fleshy by the 205-working day mark.”

Lalman presents additional early weaning ideas and an early weaning a few step ration strategy at: https://extension.okstate.edu/fact-sheets/early-weaning-for-the-beef-herd.html.


Vitamin A deficiency is yet another element to take into consideration with both of those drought circumstances and early weaning, according to Lalman. Vitamin A is 1 of the most critical vitamins to complement.

“Vitamin A is vital for proper bone formation, expansion, energy metabolism (glucose synthesis) and pores and skin and hoof tissue routine maintenance, as effectively as eyesight. The vision perform is affiliated with visual purple in the eye when animals are making an attempt to adapt from gentle to dark,” Lalman stated.

Vitamin A deficiency signs or symptoms include evening blindness, reproductive failures, skeletal deformation and pores and skin lesions.

“The best source of this vitamin is beta-carotene, a pigment in green plants that animals transform to vitamin A. If cattle are grazing inexperienced grass, they will get plenty of vitamin A. In the course of winter months or drought, vitamin A deficiencies are prevalent due to the fact dormant vegetation do not consist of the amounts of beta-carotene needed in comparison to the inexperienced forage amounts in the expanding months,” Lalman said.

Coccidiosis is also a huge challenge in accordance to Lalman.

“We have a record of troubles if we confine calves in a dry good deal throughout a demanding period of time for any length of time and really do not include a coccidiostat. We have not had a trouble managing the condition as prolonged as we contain the additive,” Lalman claimed.

Bottom line, weaning can be productive, and calves can be effectively lifted to a usual weaning weight in a drylot, Lalman explained.

“While early weaning is undoubtedly not suggested as normal follow, it must be helpful in moments of drought when bought feed might be more effectively fed right to the calf than to the lactating cow. Early weaning may well also present cattlemen a possibility to accomplish significant conception charges in cows to slender to rebreed or else,” Lalman stated.