News & Advice

Weaning for autumn calves

Jun 2, 2022 | Dairy, Grazing youngstock, Young Stock

Hanneke Officer, Veterinarian, Anexa Vets Gordonton

Mating is in full swing for our autumn calving cows, but we can’t forget about the calves. A successful weaning requires more than just stopping milk. Here are some things to think about to make sure your heifer calves are on track.

Consider the following when preparing for weaning:
  • Weighing calves gives you the best information when deciding whether a calf is ready. If you don’t have the equipment, we provide a technician service which is quick, easy and cost effective.
  • If you’re not weighing, using a weigh band can be helpful to get a rough idea of calf weight. This, on top of average daily meal consumption, can be helpful to know if calves are ready to be weaned.
  • Drenching:  oral drenches are the most effective for calves:
    • Select a combination oral drench (like Arrest C) and follow the instructions on the pack closely
    • Make sure the drench gun is set for the right weight
    • Check the expiry date and storage recommendations
    • There can be significant size differences within a mob at this age – adjust the dose accordingly.
  • Weaning is stressful – don’t plan all jobs in one day, e.g. don’t wean off milk, drench, vaccinate and transport all on the same day. Gradual transition is important.
  • Vaccinations (6-in-1, Lepto, BVD, IBR and Salmonella): remember to plan vaccinations suited to circumstances and locations. If it’s more convenient to inject them at home, make sure they get their booster vaccinations before they leave the property and therefore the initial injection a month before that. This timing also needs to suit minimum age of calves. If you’re unsure of the recommendations, ask your vet.
  • Trace elements (selenium, copper, B12): calves grow fast and benefit from help to reach target liveweights. Trace elements play a large role in this. To identify base level, it’s useful to have some blood samples taken to test levels at weaning and make a trace element plan from there. Trace element supplementation options incorporate a range of injection and oral products. Talk to your vet about the option most suitable to your system.

It is a good idea to develop a young stock health plan – An aid for you and/or your grazier to plan jobs in advance, ensure things are on target and that nothing is forgotten.


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