Weaning Revisited

I recently shared that we decided to wean our calves. I have mixed feelings about this even now but it’s where we are. In short, May was having trouble maintaining condition with a calf at her side. So we separated the calf and all her siblings.

I outlined this recently by sharing that we were attempting to use weaning clips and now it’s time for the rest of the story. Six days have passed since we put the clips on the calf noses.

It worked. Wonderfully. The end.


The clip was clearly a source of frustration to the calves but they stuck by mama’s side and dealt with it. Now the small amount of bawling we hear is just that they miss mom.

We did notice one limitation to using the weaning clips. The calves couldn’t lick their noses. Snot. Lots of snot. I had Julie remove the clips.

So now the calves are in jail. They are under shelter on warm, dry bedding with plenty of fresh water, kelp, salt, hay and a southern exposure. They seem to be doing well. Once in a while one of them (I haven’t paid much attention which) will call out to mom. More frequently moms will call out to calves. I suspect they want to be indoors with all they can eat hay too.


So that’s the sorting barn. It needs a little maintenance but I think it is older than me and works great. Here is a relevant quote from the Bob Kleberg book I am currently reading. (BTW, Yes, I know. I shouldn’t feed through a gate. I’ll get a feeder panel in there tomorrow.)

The fences, gates, the watering places, the sets of pens he had built were all the best, the most durable – sometimes overbuilt – to cut repair costs and maintenance time.

That certainly applies here. What an asset that building is. More than half of the panels are gates. The chute below leads to a loading chute or gives access to two different lots…or, of course, the head gate. There is even a hydrant behind a wooden panel at the end of the chute.

ChuteI would prefer, as others have suggested, to wean across a fence but in December with rain and cold weather in the forecast I feel better with the calves under a roof. There is enough stress as it is.

11 thoughts on “Weaning Revisited

  1. Amen.

    The downside (or at least the first one) to those weaning rings is that the calf is still stimulating the cow to let down her milk…for days. Not such a problem with a beef cow since production is much lower, but with a dairy cow that’s not what you want,old milk just sitting there in the udder.

    Second thing, the cow didn’t wean them, you did, some calves are persistent over a year of age, and will start up the nursing when you put them back together. Note I said some, not all, only time will tell when they are back together. I sell cows that don’t wean their calves. But I don’t have enough space to run separate herds, so maybe human weaning will work for you.

    Sweet barn. I see deep bedding…

    • It really is a nice building. The bedding can only be so deep before the gates won’t open…but we can drive our tractor right in to scoop it out so that’s nice. I have other buildings we just can’t take a tractor into so we park outside and carry it out one fork at a time. Ugh.

      The whole weaning thing…I don’t know. I guess most of it comes down to I didn’t wanna. I suppose I could have left the beef calves on their mothers and mixed the dairy calves in with them, separating out the dairy cows to the dry barn but that has drawbacks too. I guess you just pick your poison.

  2. I was a little worried when TCID reported problems with these nose flaps with their Dexters. Of the estimated 2.8 million cows in our Province under 40k are dairy cows. I can’t say that the only jerseys we have are hockey jerseys but jersey cows are not common, Holsteins rule here so they may not have tested the nose flaps on the smaller breeds? Really glad to hear these worked for you!

    Thanks for the pics of your chute and barn – that is a nice set up. Is this a 3-sided barn? It looks really nice and sunny in there!

    Thinking back on the yr 1948 with a $12.14 profit, I wonder what year this barn was built. It is also a good reminder that people used to build their own infrastructure – in this case your Grandpa, Barney and Dad. And it is still in good shape and use. Seems these days if a person were to build this same barn they would hire a company to come in to install this with their engineered drawings, pkgs and all their special equipment – another thing that has changed on the farm over all these years…

    • I think that building is a little older than me.

      Dad thinks grandpa put a lot of thought into the design to have just what he wanted. I plan to add plywood to the chute walls but that’s just me being picky. Maintaining that building is high on our list this year. It needs a little bit of maintenance, the roof needs caulked, trash trees are trying to grow against it and we need to paint. We’ll get there.

      • It’s that time of year for recaps of the year – top new stories, best music and movies of the yr etc. What are the milestones you would list as your top farm accomplishments for 2014? For the official blog record so in 100 yrs from now when the new blogging HFS is asked – (when was that barn built)/what yr did your family start raising your own farm-bred grass fed calves? he/she knows the timeline.

        Thought process counts for the timeline too. I.E. just like Grandpa put a lot of thought into the design of the barn, I believe you spent considerable time this yr on the design and location of your potential pond(s).

        • Most of the time Colombus was just sailing. There was excitement when he set off and excitement when he landed. Otherwise he was just on his way.

          I feel like we are just on our way. We increased our herd. We decreased our broiler numbers. We learned an awful lot. The main accomplishment for the year was more clearly defining our purpose and direction. And moving along toward our C goal.

          I should clarify that. If you want to get from A to B, shoot for C. Then wave at B as you pass by.

        • To answer your question a little differently I feel like I write the same things over and over. Cows eat grass. Kids help. I love Julie.

          But it’s true. I do love Julie. And she needs me to say it.

          I don’t really remember what I write so I was flipping through the past year and came on one specific post that seems to say it well enough. Scroll past the top half of the post to the picture of the little girl collecting eggs. Start reading there.

          • Yeah I know it, the majority of farming is Wash, Rinse, Repeat just taking care of what needs to be done through the seasons. I was recently looking at some pics of my farm when I bought it 10 yrs ago and realize all the changes – the projects aside from the day to day/seasonal chores and work. The permanent perimeter fencing, the roofing, major bldg repairs and painting, the abundant 3’ + weed conquered, the best to me is the soil fertility improvement – I saw one pic of a sparse pasture bone dry and cracked with literally lots of bald spots 8” x 8” that is drastically improved.

            In your case I was thinking of the additional Farm projects you accomplished, improved or started on this yr like:
            Built your first Deluxe Chicken tractor on wheels
            Took over the land from Tenant
            Reclaiming the overgrown Hog Lot
            First farm bred calves born
            Project Dvlpmt on Ponds
            Planted X # of Various Fruit and Nut Trees
            You conquered a section of your thorny bush/weed and though I don’t have your thorny bush I know first hand what a job it is with tall weeds/brush.
            WIP? (work in progress) Did you start to heal the zipper in the pasture you showed us in late winter?

            I was thinking about things like that. Days roll into weeks and weeks into months and for me at least it is sometimes good to step back and acknowledge what has been accomplished in the yr, not just plan for the new one. 🙂

    • To offer a little more detail, there must have been an era of agricultural prosperity when that building was built. The addition on my house dates from the same time as do the array of concrete feed bunks.

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