How to Reduce Stress During Cattle Weaning

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Purina Animal Nutrition

When cattle are stressed, they often quit eating. The sooner you can get your calves to eat, the less likely they are to get sick.

For the first five to seven days you want to encourage calves to eat at least 2.5 to 3 percent of their bodyweight, which can be achieved using available forages with a highly palatable supplemental feed such as Stress Care 5 or by using complete feeds like Accuration® Starter or Precon® Complete. Then let calves continue building intake through the 21 to 28 day starting/weaning program.

Take a look at bunk space; each calf needs about a foot of bunk space so that all calves can be at the feed bunk at the same time. If you’re using a starter with intake control properties, like Accuration® Starter, each calf needs about six to eight inches of bunk space because not all of them will eat at the same time (they’ll eat a small meal and come back later). For fenceline-weaned cattle, bunks should be placed perpendicular to the fenceline so that, as calves are rounding the pen trying to figure out how to get out, they will bump into the feed. Similarly, we recommend placing Wind and Rain® Availa® 4 mineral tubs along the pen perimeter so calves encounter them as they are circulating and begin licking the tub. That causes salivation, which encourages further consumption of the total diet.

For any successful weaning program, make sure you have clean water with adequate flow and work closely with your veterinarian to develop a comprehensive herd health program. That way, if a calf does get sick, there’s a plan in place to get it back on track.

Find tips to get your freshly weaned calves eating quickly.