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Suckler calf weaning guidelines

At this time of year suckler farmers are planning on weaning calves with the majority being prepared for sale. Careful consideration should be taken by the farmer to ensure weaning doesn’t cause unnecessary stress or fall back in thrive. James Concannon, Teagasc Mayo Walsh Scholar, has a plan here

A weaning plan

Farmers should put a weaning plan in place for their farm to ensure a smooth process.

Some key tips that will ensure a successful weaning procedure are:

  1. Meal feed calves 4 weeks prior and 2 weeks post weaning
  2. Creep graze calves ahead of cows to help break the bond between cow and calf.
  3. Vaccinate calves for pneumonia prior to weaning, following manufactures guidelines
  4. Keep calves in similar surroundings at weaning, remove the cows from the herd not the calves, removing them in small groups at a time.
  5. Ensure any procedures to be done on calves are carried out 4 weeks prior to weaning i.e. castration, dosing for lungworm etc.

Watch as James Concannon, Teagasc Ballinrobe, outlines his key weaning tips in the video below

BEEP-S Programme

With a lot of farmers participating in the BEEP S (Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme Sucklers), it is important to comply with the optional actions that they may have chosen around weaning, either meal feeding or vaccinating.

The meal feeding option involves feeding calves concentrates 4 weeks prior to weaning and 2 weeks post weaning.

The vaccination option is to vaccinate calves for pneumonia causing diseases IBR, RSV and Pi3. There are various protocols on how and when these can be administered. Generally, vaccines are given anywhere from 8-4 weeks prior to weaning with either one or two shots depending on the manufacturer.

Receipts of purchased meal and vaccines should be kept for proof in case you are chosen for inspection also.

If you liked this article you might also like Suckler Herd Management in September and  BEEP-S and Dairy Beef Calf Programme - What farmers need to do Now!

Teagasc Advisors are regular contibutors of articles here on Teagasc Daily. If you require any help or advice in the area of weaning calves, contact your local Teagasc Advisory Office here: Advisory Regions