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New style of weaning

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Big Swede

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Weaning time around here has always meant bringing in the herd, sorting, vaccinating, locking up the calves with their mothers right across the fence for a few days and then taking the cows away.

This year I planted a mix of oats, turnips, radishes and sudan grass right beside my weaning pen. Instead of turning the cows out, we turned the calves out and locked the cows up for 3 days in the weaning pen. The calves went to grazing immediately which was really neat to see. I also put creep feeders with the calves with a ton of weaning pellets made by Purina in each feeder. It took about 2 days for them to figure out the feeders but now they are using them really good. On top of the pellets we filled the feeders with Accuration/corn mix. Accuration is a complete supplement with a limiter that controls the amount of corn consumed. We weighed the steers at weaning and will weigh again in a couple of months after I run out of grazing or get snowed under to figure cost of gain. Our goal is for the steers to gain about 2.5 to 2.7 pounds per day and I am hoping for a cost of gain in the $.60-.70/pound range.
This method makes me wonder why I ever did it any other way.
 

eatbeef

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Hope you have a good feed dealer mixing that accuration and they aren't just being salesman. Most guys around here that feed it there calves gain well but are very fleshy and dont do well for the next guy that owns them. Salebarns here tell guys to take there calves off accuration at least a week ahead of saleday so that you cant smell them when they come in the ring. There is a definant odor to them when on accuration. The only way i have seen it work well is if you finish your own out and just keep them on it all the way to finish. I am using an oats, radish, and turnip mix for grazing and just feeding a 2 lb. of a low protien cube with rumensin. Hoping for 2 lb average daily gain with a cost of gain of .43 cents, but that will all depend on how long the grazing lasts.
 

Big Swede

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I am mixing the feed myself at an 80:20 ratio right now. If they eat too much I will probably go to a 70:30. I hope my grazing lasts till Jan 1 and then they will go to a high roughage bunk ration. I agree with you that the last thing I want is to get them too fleshy. The heifers will be sorted off in about a month and either go to a bunk ration or to a corn field.

By the way, tell me more about your grazing mix. Do they eventually eat the turnips and radishes or just the tops. Will they get too hard when it gets really cold? I know the cows would clean them up later if the calves don't. I wonder how many tons of vegetables per acre are out there?
 

eatbeef

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Mixing your own will work good. Had a friend that used to use milo and fish meal and do it themselves and got along great. I dont how the mixture will work this is my first year. What i have read and heard is that yes the cows will eat the turnips and radishes but even if you do not get use out of them the benefits to the soil is excellent. I guess the tap roots can go up to 4 to 5 feet deep and bring nutrients to the top and the next crop benefits greatly. And they can break a hardpan. Hope to learn more as i go and will report back. i have 160 acres in and are gonna put 200 calves out on it and see what happens, hope the weather holds.
 

Big Muddy rancher

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Big Swede, As I was hauling the last of the hay for the season I came past a field where a few years ago a crop of peas was hailed out just before harvest. Those peas grew real well late into the fall and some cows did real good on them. I was wondering if you had considered some peas in your weaning grazing mix? They might even fix some nitrogen.
 

Big Swede

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No Big Muddy I hadn't considered peas but now I am. From my new experiences with the mix I used last summer I have found that calves don't seem to go after the turnips and radishes like I thought they would. So what I have done is to let them eat the tops and the oats and also they really seem to like the sudan grass and then they get moved to another spot to do the same to the next paddock. I am following them with the yearlings and 2's and bulls to clean up what the calves left behind, mostly the turnips and radishes. There must be tons to the acre out there, should last them a long time with access corn stalks at the same time.

I think maybe peas would be a good addition to the mix next year. By the way these fields that I planted last summer are my old calviing lots that normally just grow up to weeds so any crop out there is a bonus.

I never thought I could fence line wean because I didn't have a good stand of grass close or a meadow like some guys do but what I ended up doing is creating my own grazing area. We had a wet year so it worked really well, I don't know how it will go when we have a normal or dry year.
 

millermlar

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Thanks for the interesting thread guys. It seems like a good idea to plant a "garden" and let the calves graze (and then the cows will clean up the rest or it puts nutrients back in the ground).

My question is about beets. I know that they feed beet pulp in California as part of a mixture for dairy cows. We had friends that had a huge garden this year and then they had to leave. When my husband and I were at their place after the garden had been abandoned and the cows could get in it, we found a heifer and a calf that she had adopted just going to town pulling up beets and eating them. It happened that the next day we were working those same cattle in the corral and I noticed that a heifer looked to be passing blood and I really got alarmed. Then I realized it was the same heifer that had been eating beets and remembered my friend telling me a story of how her sister had spent a ton of money on a doctor trying to figure out was wrong with her because she was passing "blood" and it ended up being beets.

Was just wondering, aside from the alarming "blood" passage, wouldn't beets be a good addition? I know that beet pulp really puts weight on horses. Never fed it to cows, personally. Would think beets would do the same as the pulp...but maybe that's what I get for thinking.
 

Big Muddy rancher

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I imagine beets would work. I have heard stories of cattle being fed cull beets, potatoes and other cannery waste type feeds. I have also heard of cows getting frozen beets or potatoes stuck in their throats. Probably not as much of an issue when they are pulling them as opposed to cull ones fed on top of the ground. :?
I never have had experience as we don't have access to those type of feeds and don't farm any ground anymore. We are usually a little to arid to grow anything much come late summer or early fall.
 

p/t rancher

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Have fed turnips in the past but was under irrigation planted them following wheat. Planted turnips and oats plus had volunteer wheat come up. Calves di great on the tops but didnt seem as though they ate the turnips as well as the cows did. Have also fed cull potatoes and years ago beet tops from the sugar beets.
 

Big Swede

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Today we sorted steers from the heifers and gave the steers their final booster shot. Since I am about out of grazing it was time to get another weight on the steers to see how they did on my new weaning method. The steers gained an average of 2.3 pounds per day and the cost of that gain was about $.44/pound. I figured my corn at $6.00 and grazing at $.30 per head per day. The PreCon pellets cost $390/T and the Accurarion cost $590/T. My 120 acres of "garden" didn't last nearly as long as I thought it would. I suppose I could leave them longer but the old cows and bulls are enjoying what they left behind.

After 3 weeks the calves remained very healthy, probably because they weren't locked in a dusty lot. They will now go on a high roughage TMR with a goal of about 2 pounds per day gain. I was very impressed with the way the calves weaned. Not once did the calves spook and try to wipe out the fence. That's worth a lot right there.
 

lazy ace

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Big Swede said:
Today we sorted steers from the heifers and gave the steers their final booster shot. Since I am about out of grazing it was time to get another weight on the steers to see how they did on my new weaning method. The steers gained an average of 2.3 pounds per day and the cost of that gain was about $.44/pound. I figured my corn at $6.00 and grazing at $.30 per head per day. The PreCon pellets cost $390/T and the Accurarion cost $590/T. My 120 acres of "garden" didn't last nearly as long as I thought it would. I suppose I could leave them longer but the old cows and bulls are enjoying what they left behind.

After 3 weeks the calves remained very healthy, probably because they weren't locked in a dusty lot. They will now go on a high roughage TMR with a goal of about 2 pounds per day gain. I was very impressed with the way the calves weaned. Not once did the calves spook and try to wipe out the fence. That's worth a lot right there.

Will your steers go on a high roughage ration or just the heifers?

If your steers are healthy and doing well I would consider leaving them on accuration.

just my thoughts

have a good one
 

WyomingRancher

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It has been fun following your progress along, from initiating the decision to change calving dates, to improving your weaning strategy, to marketing. Your attitude has changed as well, and I really get the feeling you're enjoying what you're doing... which is the point for all of us in doing this, no matter how we choose to proceed :wink: :D .
 

Big Swede

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Thanks WR, and yes it is a lot of fun when things go well, especially when you don't have to treat any sick calves.

Lazy Ace, both the steers and heifers will go on a high roughage ration. They are going on a 39 megacal ration for now and the steers may get bumped up a little later on. I am afraid they would get a little fleshy if they stayed on the accuration and I think they will sell better if they are a little on the green side.
 

Big Swede

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One final note on the weaning style. Two nights after we sorted and put the calves in pens the heifers spooked and hit the fence, broke some planks, broke a leg, but fortunately didn't get out. Funny that no matter how we do things the calves are still in charge. There were only 3 steel bunks in the pen and the rest were turned tire bunks. Maybe they all should have been tire bunks.

Anyway, the leg will heal, and a lesson was learned. :lol:
 

Silver

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Where is the leg broken that you expect it to heal? I've never had any luck in that regard, but perhaps I shouldn't have given up upon first seeing them. :shock:
 

gcreekrch

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I've never cast a broken leg on a calf and they have always healed straight on their own as long as the skin is not broken. We sold a calf this fall that broke a hind leg above the hock at about 3 weeks of age. He was sold with his respectivive weight group.
 

burnt

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Our "old style weaning" resulted in a gate getting lifted off of its hinges on the 3nd day after - bit of a mix-up and resorting today, but no injuries at least. :? So, a few more days of bawling to listen to. :roll:

This time there IS a pin in the hinge!
 

Soapweed

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Our weaning has gone pretty well with a little different approach the past couple years. We saved some grass in strategic places,
each about a mile from where the cows were to be locked up in the dusty corrals. We set up portable panels by the good grass,
then corraled the bunches which averaged about 175 head in size. The cows were sorted out, then pushed home quite rapidly
so they wouldn't have any chance to go back to the calves. After confining the cows in tight corrals with hay in bale rings,
the calves were released onto the good grass next to where they had last seen their mothers. They were happy enough and didn't
try to tear out any fences.
 

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