Weaning - Calves

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 Points to remember | Good management practices | Plan ahead

Management objective: Evaluate management and marketing strategy.

Points to Remember

  • Knowing the marketing alternatives available and the way the market system works will impact profitability.
  • Predicting price trends is necessary to make an informed decision on which market alternatives will be the most profitable.
  • Factors affecting calf prices include feed grain prices, international markets, the price and supply of beef, pork, poultry and fish, plant proteins and consumer demand.
  • The annual price cycle for calves typically has the lowest prices in mid fall and the highest price in early spring. Better marketing decisions with plans for the most profitable alternative for this year are made well before weaning.
  • Market news sources include the Canadian Cattle Association CANFAX website (www.canfax.ca,) and the Alberta Agriculture & Rural Developement Market Report on Ropin' the Web.
  • Parasites can cause serious economic losses, and are best controlled in the fall using a systemic endectocide.
  • Herd performance should be measured and evaluated at weaning time.
  • Weaned weight of the calves is affected by milk production and pasture quality affecting average daily gain and the age of the calf at weaning.
  • Reproductive performance of the cows should be considered when selecting replacement heifer calves.
  • The target weight and condition score for replacement heifers must be kept in mind when planning their winter feeding program.
Good Management Practices
  • Conduct stressful procedures such as vaccination, castration and dehorning at least two to three weeks prior to weaning.
  • Watch weaned calves carefully to see that they are all eating and drinking. Calves that are slow to come to feed may be showing early signs of sickness.
  • Isolate all sick calves as soon as possible where they can be given proper care and where they will not infect other calves.
  • Calves under weaning stress need energy from feed. Feed must be palatable. Calves will usually start eating good quality long hay sooner than chopped hay, grain or pellets.
  • Preconditioning programs may be beneficial when marketing calves.
  • To reduce shrink in marketing calves, ensure that they have been on dry feed and handled quietly.
Plan Ahead
  • Review plans and goals for developing replacement heifers.
  • Plan the feeding program for calves that are to be held over the winter.

Other Documents in the Series

  Fall Cow Herd Management
Weaning - Calves - Current Document
Wintering - Cows and Bulls
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Barry Yaremcio.
This document is maintained by Brenda McLellan.
This information published to the web on September 26, 2001.
Last Reviewed/Revised on September 18, 2017.