Weaning naturally

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True Grit Farms
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Re: Weaning naturally

Postby True Grit Farms » Wed Dec 05, 2018 9:04 pm

Hunter wrote:
Jeanne - Simme Valley wrote:What breed do you have?


Mostly commercial with some full blood angus.

I would like to have a 60-90 day window. But, this is the second round of calves for these mommas and as long as they raise a good calf I'm not getting rid of them if they have their third calf 13 months after the second.

We will re-evaluate the cows after the third calf.

You can always hold your bull out for a month or two and things will tighten up. Somehow the cows will tighten their calving up after a few years on their own. The majority of our calves will be born late winter or early spring, a some more in the fall and a couple of stragglers. I feel it's our management or lack thereof and the cows BCS that causes it naturally.
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Re: Weaning naturally

Postby Katpau » Wed Dec 05, 2018 9:55 pm

There aren't any cows in the wild around here, but I have noticed that cows that don't receive any supplemental hay in winter will tend to lose a lot of weight in late Fall and over the winter. As a result those cows will often dry up and their calves will be weaned before the next calf is born. That is how nature works. I prefer to sell healthy heavy calves in the Fall and provide hay as needed to the cow over winter, so that they are able to calve in good condition in the Spring and get rebred in a short window. If I keep a calf over the winter without providing enough supplemental feed (hay), they will weigh less in the Spring than they weighed off the cow in the Fall. If I left those calves on the cow without feeding, most might be weaned by the time the cow calved, but both the calves and the cows would be in worse shape by Spring. That would mean more calving problems, cows without enough milk to feed her calf and less cows cycling and rebreeding the next year. That is what happens in nature, but I think we can do better. Now it may be very different in Georgia, but it will cost you "dollarwise" here.
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Re: Weaning naturally

Postby Jeanne - Simme Valley » Thu Dec 06, 2018 7:51 am

Katpau - very well said.
You get out what you put in. As I mentioned, the only cows I can imagine "weaning" their calves would be a cow that ran out of milk, and that usually only happens if they are undernourished.
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Re: Weaning naturally

Postby True Grit Farms » Thu Dec 06, 2018 8:36 am

Jeanne - Simme Valley wrote:Katpau - very well said.
You get out what you put in. As I mentioned, the only cows I can imagine "weaning" their calves would be a cow that ran out of milk, and that usually only happens if they are undernourished.

Is a cow the only animal that won't wean it's young on it's own? Your letting your feelings over rule your brains. A cow is nothing more than a domesticated animal. And believe it or not nature looks after itself "instincts" and will be doing so long after we're gone. Just another good example when common sense is not common.
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Re: Weaning naturally

Postby Caustic Burno » Thu Dec 06, 2018 8:43 am

True Grit Farms wrote:
Jeanne - Simme Valley wrote:Katpau - very well said.
You get out what you put in. As I mentioned, the only cows I can imagine "weaning" their calves would be a cow that ran out of milk, and that usually only happens if they are undernourished.

Is a cow the only animal that won't wean it's young on it's own? Your letting your feelings over rule your brains. A cow is nothing more than a domesticated animal. And believe it or not nature looks after itself "instincts" and will be doing so long after we're gone. Just another good example when common sense is not common.



Amen this whole thought process needs an aspirin or medical attention.
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Re: Weaning naturally

Postby Hunter » Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:20 am

True Grit Farms wrote:
Hunter wrote:
Jeanne - Simme Valley wrote:What breed do you have?


Mostly commercial with some full blood angus.

I would like to have a 60-90 day window. But, this is the second round of calves for these mommas and as long as they raise a good calf I'm not getting rid of them if they have their third calf 13 months after the second.

We will re-evaluate the cows after the third calf.

You can always hold your bull out for a month or two and things will tighten up. Somehow the cows will tighten their calving up after a few years on their own. The majority of our calves will be born late winter or early spring, a some more in the fall and a couple of stragglers. I feel it's our management or lack thereof and the cows BCS that causes it naturally.


Yes, we could and even though we have enough space we don't have the strong facility yet. The bull would go into a separate field but that hasn't kept him and neighbors bull to the south or the north from tearing down fences. Most of our calves are born in the spring but about 15-20% have moved to Aug-Oct calving.
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Re: Weaning naturally

Postby Hunter » Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:22 am

Jeanne - Simme Valley wrote:What breed do you have?


Does breed matter? I ask in case I am missing something.
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Re: Weaning naturally

Postby Jeanne - Simme Valley » Thu Dec 06, 2018 3:34 pm

Not really. Just wondering because some breeds are known to have very little milk - like Club type breeds/mixtures.

Our modern cattle are a long way removed from wild bovine.
I think CB's estimate might be under-exaggerated.
If you have NO input into your cattle, just harvest calves to sell whenever you want cash, then obviously you have no real concern (and don't need to) as to whether your cow is calving every 12 months. You are not looking for maximum performance or even moderate performance. I could never and will never have cattle if that was the only way I could operate. It is an individual choice.
If anyone leaves a sucking calf on a cow up to her calving time, taking the STRONG risk that the newborn will not survive, you would be totally wasting money.
Katpau - you are much more diplomatic than me!!!
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Re: Weaning naturally

Postby True Grit Farms » Thu Dec 06, 2018 10:31 pm

Jeanne - Simme Valley wrote:Not really. Just wondering because some breeds are known to have very little milk - like Club type breeds/mixtures.

Our modern cattle are a long way removed from wild bovine.
I think CB's estimate might be under-exaggerated.
If you have NO input into your cattle, just harvest calves to sell whenever you want cash, then obviously you have no real concern (and don't need to) as to whether your cow is calving every 12 months. You are not looking for maximum performance or even moderate performance. I could never and will never have cattle if that was the only way I could operate. It is an individual choice.
If anyone leaves a sucking calf on a cow up to her calving time, taking the STRONG risk that the newborn will not survive, you would be totally wasting money.
Katpau - you are much more diplomatic than me!!!

Your assuming again. I posted real calving numbers and will post a couple of more. Just because I think a person makes their own luck, but I sure hope that I don't jinx us. Out of 540ish calves born here on our farm only TWO have died. One was eating coffee weed before we knew it could kill them and the other one we have no clue why it died. I've pulled some that died, had still born calves, 1 abortion and cut some calves to pieces to get them out. But any calf that has made it longer than a few hours has survived besides TWO. So far the only negatives that I've seen is lighter weaning weights and the BCS of our cows. Every cow on our place has a calf every 12 months or sooner. I've learned how to halfway palpate and any cow that I feel is open gets a blood test, if she's open she's gone. I make no excuses and accept no excuses for our cattle. I'm fully aware that this is not the way your supposed to raise cattle in the 21st century. But I've always asked why to everything, and have never been afraid to try something that I feel might work. Our hay, fertilizer, feed and meds are averaging around $150 per cow now, and 5 years ago it was over twice as much per cow.
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Re: Weaning naturally

Postby Stocker Steve » Thu Dec 06, 2018 11:42 pm

True Grit Farms wrote:Our hay, fertilizer, feed and meds are averaging around $150 per cow now, and 5 years ago it was over twice as much per cow.


What caused this ?
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Re: Weaning naturally

Postby Hunter » Fri Dec 07, 2018 9:59 am

Jeanne - Simme Valley wrote:Not really. Just wondering because some breeds are known to have very little milk - like Club type breeds/mixtures.

Our modern cattle are a long way removed from wild bovine.
I think CB's estimate might be under-exaggerated.
If you have NO input into your cattle, just harvest calves to sell whenever you want cash, then obviously you have no real concern (and don't need to) as to whether your cow is calving every 12 months. You are not looking for maximum performance or even moderate performance. I could never and will never have cattle if that was the only way I could operate. It is an individual choice.
If anyone leaves a sucking calf on a cow up to her calving time, taking the STRONG risk that the newborn will not survive, you would be totally wasting money.
Katpau - you are much more diplomatic than me!!!


What do you consider moderate performance?
Does one need to sell a cow that calves every 12-14 months?
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Re: Weaning naturally

Postby True Grit Farms » Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:18 am

Stocker Steve wrote:
True Grit Farms wrote:Our hay, fertilizer, feed and meds are averaging around $150 per cow now, and 5 years ago it was over twice as much per cow.


What caused this ?

A combination of things, starting with cattle type. We have very few heavy milkers left and only a handful of registered cows. The majority are cross bred smaller frame cows that can make do on less of everything. We quit AI all together, I found it to be very expensive, time consuming and high maintenance. We supplement feed half of what we did 5 years ago, at almost half the price. A WCS and corn feed mix cost $100 less per ton than a custom blend and has more fat and protein. Also using a higher protein feed means you can get by on a lower cheaper hay cost. Fertilizer and weed control was an easy one to save money on. We use broiler litter and spray19e, instead of commercial blends. It never made much sense to spray the whole field just to kill a few weeds. Spot spraying the bad areas and not worrying about a few weeds has saved us time and money. I'm sure we're reaping some of the benefits from 5 years ago. But using a cow and culling those that don't or can't fit into your management is where we're making the most progress. Don't make or accept any excuses for your cows.
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Re: Weaning naturally

Postby True Grit Farms » Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:20 am

Hunter wrote:
Jeanne - Simme Valley wrote:Not really. Just wondering because some breeds are known to have very little milk - like Club type breeds/mixtures.

Our modern cattle are a long way removed from wild bovine.
I think CB's estimate might be under-exaggerated.
If you have NO input into your cattle, just harvest calves to sell whenever you want cash, then obviously you have no real concern (and don't need to) as to whether your cow is calving every 12 months. You are not looking for maximum performance or even moderate performance. I could never and will never have cattle if that was the only way I could operate. It is an individual choice.
If anyone leaves a sucking calf on a cow up to her calving time, taking the STRONG risk that the newborn will not survive, you would be totally wasting money.
Katpau - you are much more diplomatic than me!!!


What do you consider moderate performance?
Does one need to sell a cow that calves every 12-14 months?

YES, a cows only job is to give you a marketable calf every 12 months or less.
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Re: Weaning naturally

Postby Hunter » Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:37 am

I should have worded that differently as I tend to agree.
But, what if it happens once or twice and not in back to back years?
Assuming she produces a good calf every time.
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Re: Weaning naturally

Postby Jeanne - Simme Valley » Fri Dec 07, 2018 12:04 pm

Hunter - I just shipped 4 cows on the rail. All open. I could have kept them and bred for a fall calf (losing only 1/2 year). These were top notch cows. Actually, one was a heifer I purchased for real good money. She had bad temperament and turned out to be a sucker. You cannot afford to keep cattle that are not performing.

Grit - I am not arguing your numbers. I understand where you are at with your cows. Sounds like a plan that is working for you. Are your cows actually weaning their calves? Or, have you left yearlings that were sucking at next calving time? I am hard pressed to believe a maternal cow will stop her calf from sucking her. Her calf WILL stop sucking if the cow runs out of milk. IMO, the only reason a cow will run out of milk is nutrition.
I think when you have little or no input, your output is less but your net can be more.
As I said, this is an option for a commercial herd that just wants to glean cash flow with little to no labor/investment.
Obviously, a PB breeder expecting to sell breeding stock would be money lost to attempt this. And I can not or never have been able to buy a cow that would fit into my breeding program for $700 (not even a weaned calf!)
We are talking totally different goals.
But, I am interested in your weaning - or not weaning. Evidently, you wean some, but are you saying the heifers you retain for replacements don't get weaned?
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