Late Weaning in Uk

StormInATeaCup

Member
Mixed Farmer

Recently read this article which I thought was interesting… does anyone do this in the UK?

Outwintering cow and calf pairs, weaning at 10 months in March and calving in May/June.

The late weaning would make the out-wintering and weaning easier, the cows would lose plenty of condition over winter but recover fast in March & April to avoid fertility problems.

This weaning system would be part of an extensive system of finishing at grass by 30 months
 

Whitepeak

Member
Livestock Farmer
Planning on doing similar here. Always used to wean everything at housing in November regardless of whether it was February born or August! Now I'm leaving the calves on longer, planning on leaving my April born calves on until Christmas. Tried it with a few last year, and they did a lot better. I also want to make my cows work harder.
We winter inside though so slightly different.
 

StormInATeaCup

Member
Mixed Farmer
I’m looking at late weaning as our system would rely on out-wintering all cattle and managing a group of out-wintered weaned calves between Nov-Feb doesn’t sound practical.

I thought the perceived wisdom was that late weaning would result in the cows body condition suffering over winter - leading to potential calving problems in spring, weak spring calves and fertility problems with the cows not getting back in calf.

If calves were weaned in December or January then it would be necessary to winter feed both the cows and calves in separate groups.

Delaying this until March however would mean both groups would go straight out to fresh grass after weaning…
 

AftonShepherd

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
East Ayrshire
We calve in April and May, calves left on cows at housing and weaning is normally one of the first jobs in New Year. Any empties or others due to be culled get sold at housing so their calves are weaned then but just run with all the rest. Definitely think those ones take a check and never catch up completely.
 

topground

Member
Location
North Somerset.
Weaned using nose clips in mid to late January. Clips off after a fortnight or so, calves continue to run with their dams outside throughout. Calving mid March onwards outside. Only come in if it is really wet. Works here, sold after annual TB test in May. Weaning as stress free as it can be, the cows carry condition into the winter and need to lose some before calving. Served starting in June while they are on a rising plane of nutrition, repeat.
 

Werzle

Member
Location
Midlands

Recently read this article which I thought was interesting… does anyone do this in the UK?

Outwintering cow and calf pairs, weaning at 10 months in March and calving in May/June.

The late weaning would make the out-wintering and weaning easier, the cows would lose plenty of condition over winter but recover fast in March & April to avoid fertility problems.

This weaning system would be part of an extensive system of finishing at grass by 30 months
Article is from america where the winters are cold and frosty , they dont have any depth of soil by the looks either to poach in our wet winters . Alot would depend on the breed of cow too, calves produced on the cows in the pictures wintered on only hay would be baby calf price as stores too. How many would you need to earn a living and support a family if your store calf price was £400-550 at best and how many acres would you need to ranch them over
 
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Sounds OK on a ranch where Cows are stocked at 1 per 5 or 10 acres

I've calved in Jan and weaned in late October/november with cows outwintered on sandy paddocks until calving
Cows indoors to calve and outside again ASAP.
This is OK done on sandy parts of the farm, but the idea of leaving 150 plus cows out with calves all winter sounds like a mess, even in a fairly dry area like ours.

I see they are growing cover crops, triticale and feeding hay.
How much cheaper is that than feeding dry cows straw and rough silage outdoors three times a week after the cslved are sold off in the autumn?
 

StormInATeaCup

Member
Mixed Farmer
Poaching is a concern but our farm is a bit like a ranch - it’s on Salisbury Plain SSSI grassland with thin well draining chalk soils. The winter rotation would be at low stocking density with frequent movement on deferred grazing land with high covers. Breed is Angus/ Stabiliser crossed with SD. I don’t think it would suit a system selling stores but we would look to extensively finish them off grass
 
Poaching is a concern but our farm is a bit like a ranch - it’s on Salisbury Plain SSSI grassland with thin well draining chalk soils. The winter rotation would be at low stocking density with frequent movement on deferred grazing land with high covers. Breed is Angus/ Stabiliser crossed with SD. I don’t think it would suit a system selling stores but we would look to extensively finish them off grass
Sounds like a good plan.
The only reason I wean in November is because I always found calves would get absolutely covered in shite in with their mothers and it didn't matter how much straw I used. It would be all over their heads and backs even if their bellies were clean. They got shat on while lying down in the shed 🤦‍♂️
Cows are wintered out for longer on deferred grass now though so I had planned on leaving calves on but my deferred grass didn't grow too well this year as the field was so dry and it didn't rain much so I'll wean them into a shed next week and the cows can strip graze what's there and have some hay. Not brave enough to leave calves on with not much grass there. Could creep them I suppose.
@The Ruminant does what you are describing I think. Or will know about it if he doesn't
 
Poaching is a concern but our farm is a bit like a ranch - it’s on Salisbury Plain SSSI grassland with thin well draining chalk soils. The winter rotation would be at low stocking density with frequent movement on deferred grazing land with high covers. Breed is Angus/ Stabiliser crossed with SD. I don’t think it would suit a system selling stores but we would look to extensively finish them off grass
My plan is to probably sell stores about July, so 14 months old, having made full use of compensatory growth and as many mouths as possible on the ground over peak grass growth season.
@Werzle a bit of creep feed for the calves is a possible tweak for the system.
 

Werzle

Member
Location
Midlands
My plan is to probably sell stores about July, so 14 months old, having made full use of compensatory growth and as many mouths as possible on the ground over peak grass growth season.
@Werzle a bit of creep feed for the calves is a possible tweak for the system.
I was glad to wean mine a fortnight ago as even though i was moving the creep feeders twice a week they were ploughing the ground in and around the feeders
 

StormInATeaCup

Member
Mixed Farmer
I'm going to be doing this. Small herd of Traditional Herefords plus Red Polls and some crossbreds bulled to calve May next year. The system you describe is popular with some of the more progressive US ranchers. 'Grass-fed beef' by Julius Ruchels would be an interesting read for you
Bought that book a couple of weeks ago but haven't read it yet. Will have a look thanks
 

AngusLad

Member
Livestock Farmer
Seems like an expensive way of keeping the cow for the winter and a fairly inefficient way of feeding the calf? I'd always rather get the calf weaned at 5/6 months and get it pushed on with good feeding. And get the cow kicked back outside while she's still hopefully holding good condition?
 
Seems like an expensive way of keeping the cow for the winter and a fairly inefficient way of feeding the calf? I'd always rather get the calf weaned at 5/6 months and get it pushed on with good feeding. And get the cow kicked back outside while she's still hopefully holding good condition?
Depends on the cow and the farm, I suppose. Six months doesn't seem long for a cow to feed a calf? Native types more likely to get fat through the winter without a calf to feed? It is, after all, mimicking what happens in nature.
 

AngusLad

Member
Livestock Farmer
Depends on the cow and the farm, I suppose. Six months doesn't seem long for a cow to feed a calf? Native types more likely to get fat through the winter without a calf to feed? It is, after all, mimicking what happens in nature.
I agree, horses for courses and all that. I keep native cows but like to get the calves off the cows while they are holding big condition as the cows go out onto rough hill grazing for the winter and so need to be able to live off their backs. There's no one size fits all type answer
 

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