Farmer to Farmer
STEPHANIE MORGAN EWING, KENTUCKY
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.