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Agricultural News

Reduce Calf Stress with Fenceline Weaning

Fri, 13 Jun 2014 16:26:42 CDT

Reduce Calf Stress with Fenceline Weaning

The less stress you can put on a calf at weaning time, the better off the calf is going to be, along with your bottomline. That's according to Dr. Glenn Selk, longtime Beef Cattle Specialist at Oklahoma State University and now Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist. On today's Beef Buzz, Dr. Selk shares one of his favorite ideas when it comes to weaning is the use of fenceline weaning.

"One of the real advantages I think to fall calving is to have the option of leaving the calves with the cows until they are nine, maybe even close to ten months of age," Selk said. "That way they are older and heavier at weaning time and we can market a heavier calf."

With that concept that also means fall-born calves will likely be weaned in hottest months of the year and that extra heat adds additional stress to that weaning process.

"We can reduce some of that stress by a management practice, we call fenceline weaning," Selk said. "That is just the situation where calves are weaned from the cows with only a fence in between them, so they can see the mother, hear the mother, but of course don't have access to them."

California did some research on comparing fenceline weaning to where the calves were completely weaned separately, where they were out of sight, out of mind from the mother.
The study followed those calves in terms of their behavior for the first week.

"Those calves that were fenceline weaned, walked less, bawled less and ate a little bit more in the first two to three days after the weaning took place, therefore they got off to a little better start,' Selk said. "As they looked at the weight change the calves that were fenceline weaned gained 23 more pounds than did their counterparts that were completely separated in the first two weeks and that weight advantage was maintained through ten weeks time, when those fenceline weaned calves weighted 26 pounds more than their counterparts did."

In weaning calves in the midst of summer, its important producers provide adequate water on both sides of the fence.   Selk says water needs to be available for those calves to be able to reach, so they can get enough to drink during the hot summer months.

As cattlemen consider fenceline weaning, Selk believes they will fine a less stress means to wean with using fenceline weaning.

"I think you will end up with a healthier calf, a little heavier calf to market and therefore should a few more dollars in this real good calf market," Selk said.

The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network- but is also a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show- and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.


Ron Hays Beef Buzzes with Dr. Glenn Selk
right-click to download mp3


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