Weaning for Profit
John B. Hall, Extension Animal Scientist, Beef, Virginia Tech
Vaccinating calves prior to weaning and selling them in truckload lots in programs such as the Virginia Quality Assured Certified Feeder Calf program has resulted in increased value of $25-$35 per head. Producers that have been willing to vaccinate calves properly have been rewarded. However, in the past two years, the demand and premiums for calves that are also weaned and vaccinated has greatly increased. In most programs, calves need to be weaned 45 days.
In Virginia, the most common reason for not weaning calves is “I don’t have a place to wean ‘em”. With most of Virginia cow-calf operations on large boundaries with limited facilities, this comment is certainly true. In addition, chasing cows or calves that have broken out of a pasture looking for each other is not an enjoyable pastime. Recently, research and demonstrations have focused on low-stress weaning that keeps cows and calves in the same proximity. This reduces stress on the calves as well as stress on the owner.