Low Stress Quiet Weaning of Beef Calves

No calf likes to be separated from it’s milk bar when it is used to having a good suck of milk whenever it wants it. I can’t blame them! The cow / calf bond is a strong one and breaking it is ….well breaking it. When calves are removed from the cows there is usually a significant degree of stress and angst caused. Calves will often, at best, stop putting on weight for a while, and at worse will lose weight. Anything that can be done to decrease stress in animals is a good thing.

Last year one of our clients introduced me to the Quietwean Calf Weaner. It’s a reusable plastic device, designed and made in Canada, that reduces the stress of weaning to (generally) a negligible level. The Quietwean Calf Weaner can be used in paddock weaning situations or in yard weaning situations. Everything else that is done to minimise stress when weaning, like getting the calves used to new feed before weaning etc can still be done. The difference is that the calves get to wear these groovy devices in their noses for 4 – 7 days before being separated from mum.

Most years, when we separate our cows and calves there is bellowing from both groups of animals for several days, and multiple attempts to break through fences to get back to each other. This year, we used the Quietwean Calf Weaner devices in the calves, and never heard a peep!

The devices (a bright yellow, so they’re easy to see if they fall out) were put in the calves noses one weekend, and the calves and cows put together back int the paddock. The Quietwean Calf Weaner allows the calf to graze and drink water normally, but not suckle the cow. The calves and cows are still together and so not stressed by being separated. The following weekend we separated cows from the calves. The calves were used to not drinking, and the cows have started to dry up their milk production and are used to not being suckled, so separating them was no different to separating any other two groups of cattle The calves continued to graze as if nothing had happened, as did the cows. No noise, no broken fences, no stopping eating and weight loss, no stress!

These devices are a real winner and can be used year after year. I’m a convert!

We will be stocking these devices at the clinic. I think they should become standard usage on many farms.