Weaning Suggestions to Set Up Calves For Success

Weaning Suggestions to Set Up Calves For Success

Reducing stress at weaning can help protect calves against bovine respiratory disease and set them up for success in the feedlot. Dr. Kevin Hill, technical services veterinarian at Merck Animal Health, shares management suggestions to reduce stress and prepare calves nutritionally and health-wise to face these challenges.

Hill: "Reducing stress is so critical to getting good performance in calf health — especially at weaning time. Obviously the most stressful time in a calf's life so as we focus on that our goal is really to spread out the stress that calf experiences so that everything doesn't happen in one day."


Dr. Hill suggests that producers consider the timing of vaccinations.

Hill: "The ideal strategy and this is where the concept of pre-conditioning was born is to get that calf prepared prior to the time that he needs protection. So in other words, if we wait til a calf arrives to the feedlot to vaccinate him — it is very likely that he is going to face exposure to disease before he ever has the chance to respond to that vaccine. So ideally we'd like to start three to four weeks prior to weaning get those respiratory vaccines into those calves and then they've got plenty of time before weaning and shipping to respond and have good protection started."


Nutrition plays a big role in transitioning a calf from nursing and grazing grass to weaning. Dr. Hill recommends introducing creep feed, which is a great way to teach calves to eat from a feed bunk.

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