4 reasons to try YARD WEANING
Yard weaning is a secure, short-term, but effective method of weaning calves.
The idea of yard weaning is to get calves used to humans and minimise stress during weaning. Research in Australia and the USA, where calves are yard weaned and then moved into large feedlots, has found this results in: • cattle that are calmer and easier to handle over their lifetime; • reduced chance of damage to people or equipment; • increased chance of superior early weight gain; • yard-weaned calves have half the disease rate of paddock weaned calves - cattle are more likely to suffer from respiratory disease if they are stressed so cattle that stay calmer in stressful situations, like yarding for drenching, are less likely to fall ill.
SMALL NZ TRIALS
have found the weight gains are about the same whether calves are weaned on pasture or in yards, but the yard system still has advantages. It did significantly improve the temperament of the weaners, and cattle were easier and safer to handle in the yards as they got older, and easier to muster.
It is a good way to introduce unfamiliar feeds to weaners, eg baleage, grains etc, which may be fed out later in their life.
• A contagious disease, eg pinkeye or BVD, is more likely to spread quickly in the confines of a yard. • Yards quickly turn to muddy bogs in wet weather or if ground conditions are not ideal.
columnist Jane Bellerby has been using the yard weaning weaningmethodmethod for several years and says it
works well in their situation with bought- bought-inin calves.
WE’VE BEEN yard weaning for several years now, thanks to my brother Guy who suggested it would make our lives easier. He’s right: yard weaning has been a fantastic addition to our stock handling skillset.
Prior to this, we had chased ‘wild’ beasties around our and the neighbour’s paddocks, amid lots of puffing, much swearing, and ongoing issues with skitty, fence- hopping animals.
Now when we buy in new young stock, they come off the truck and go straight into a secure yard, even if they come with a “yeah, sure they’re quiet” reputation. They also get their only-ever squirt of drench as we cross graze with horses which means a minimal worm count for both bovines and equines.
We keep them yarded for about three days and nights or so, and provide ample hay and water. At least twice each day, but usually more often, we go to the yards to feed out more hay and spend time wandering among the animals.
By Day 3-4 the cattle are looking forward to seeing us as they now equate us with food and are at ease with us moving among them in the yard. We do have them a bit hungry when we first let them out so they are focussed on settling down to eating grass, not hooning around the paddock.
The yard gets mucky and it’s not great in wet weather, but the payoff for the next 18 months the cattle are with us is well worth it. They are calm, biddable, easy to shift around and handle, and quickly pack on the weight.
Another bonus is that if they are not already savvy about electric fences, they learn quickly without going through tapes because they are in a calm state. A good belt of power going through the fence means one or two shocks is all they ever get.
We only run a few stock but I’m told yard weaning works for much larger mobs as well, a win-win scenario all-round.
Castration is a vital tool in the management of male livestock. You want to stop the production of testosterone, and the animal's ability to breed, but there are other advantages: • steers and wethers are much easier and safer to handle than bulls or rams which can become very dangerous animals; • it prevents unwanted sexual activity and accidental matings; • the meat from bulls and rams is generally tougher and darker and can have an unpleasant taint. A SEDATED CALF, waiting for a vet to surgically remove a testis from within the body as it never descended. Never leave one testicle behind or you create a 'stag', an animal which looks like it has been castrated, but which will behave like a bull. He would probably not be fertile.
The usual method of castration (and tail docking for lambs) used in this country involves the application of a small rubber ring to the neck of the scrotum. The rings are sold for use on calves and lambs and are applied with a four-pronged tool called an elastrator which stretches the band sufficiently to fit over the animal's scrotum (or lamb's tail). The ring is left in place, restricting the top, with the testes safely inside the scrotum. It must be done when the animals are small so that the pain inflicted is kept to a minimum and the resulting wound is small.
Ideally it should be done any time from 12 hours after birth* so as to allow time for bonding and colostrum intake before inflicting pain, and before the animal is four weeks old. The earlier the better.
Little ram lambs' testicles grow surprisingly quickly, much faster than their bovine counterparts – if you leave THIS PHOTO was taken four weeks after castration. The spermatic cords sometimes do not decay sufficiently and cause the dead scrotum to remain attached, pulling deeply into the body. While that does not cause obvious pain, this calf developed an infection above the castration site. Usually movement will cause the scrotum to detach, but in this case it did not and we had to cut it free.
them too long, you'll miss your chance! More than once I've threaded first one large testis through the ring and then the other, because they were too large to go through together.
Calves are a little more forgiving in