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.