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Preparation for Weaning Part 2: How to reduce stress at weaning

In the second of a two-part series on planning in preparation for weaning, Teagasc Specialist, Aidan Murray, advises how to reduce stress at weaning.

Listen to part one which deals with how to prevent pneumonia here

Weaning can be a stressful time on farms both for cow and calf and there are many different weaning strategies with benefits to each process, which Aidan describes.

As part of the Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme-Sucklers (BEEP-S), farmers may have selected the optional measure under Action 2 to feed concentrates to weanlings for which they get €30 per calf weighed up to a max of 100 calves. The objective of this measure is to introduce calves to meal feeding for 4 weeks pre weaning and a further 2 weeks post weaning with the aim being to reduce the stress of weaning on the calf. Aidan describes the process in a video here

Depending on farmers’ systems, farmers may be considering castrating bull weanling and this can add stress at weaning. View a factsheet on Castration - Best Practice here 

Aidan outlines that calves can be castrated, other than by a veterinary practitioner, before it reaches 6 months of age, using a Burdizzo or before it reaches 8 days of age using a rubber ring (S.I. 127 of 2014), in both cases without the use of anaesthesia and analgesia (S.I. 107 of 2014).

Over these age limits, local anaesthesia, using a prescription only medicine (POM), must be administered by a veterinary practitioner to animals intended for castration.

Finally Aidan advises that farmers should put a plan in place in the coming weeks to ensure the weanlings have a stress free weaning.

Listen back to previous episodes of The Beef Edge Podcast