Farmer to Farmer



What’s the best way to wean calves?

Learn from some­one with lots of ex­pe­ri­ence.

WEAN­ING CALVES IS STRESS­FUL on a cow and a calf, as well as us hu­mans. There are no rules and many dif­fer­ent ways for wean­ing. We usu­ally wean be­tween 6 and 8 months of age. You can wean ear­lier if need be. We pro­vide the cows and calves grain and hay well be­fore wean­ing so the calves will al­ready be eat­ing ahead of time. We also like to make sure the calves are com­fort­able be­ing around us, the dogs, trac­tors, and other sights and sounds of the farm be­fore mov­ing them. This way they will not be too stressed. It is also less stress­ful on the calves if we do vac­ci­na­tions, cas­tra­tions and de­horn­ing a cou­ple of weeks be­fore wean­ing.

When we do pull the calves from the mothers, we put them in a part of the pas­ture that is a good bit away from Mama (with sev­eral good fences be­tween them). But it’s an area where the calves can still see their mother and the other cows. It would be bet­ter if we could leave all the calves in the pas­ture that they are in and move all the cows out in­stead, but on our farm that is not pos­si­ble. We still go through a cou­ple of days of bawl­ing back and forth, but they seem to do fine and con­tinue to eat and drink as well as main­tain their weight.

In Jan­uary 2017 Stephanie and Steven Mor­gan moved their fam­ily from Colorado to Ken­tucky, where they now have a 150-acre farm with 100 head of beef cat­tle and a mul­ti­tude of cute calves. They also have horses, a don­key, sev­eral chick­ens and two pups. Five of their chil­dren are at the farm. This past sum­mer six more of their chil­dren vis­ited and pitched in.

Grace Mor­gan feeds the first bot­tle-fed calf on the Mor­gan farm.

Kim and Donny Reid and their two sons own Rei­d­hill Farms in west­ern North Carolina and have been farm­ing more than 30 years. They raise cat­tle, hogs, sheep and goats.

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