How Are We Going to Take These Calves in This Fall

Stacy Hoffman, Livestock Production Specialist, Purina Animal Nutrition (507) 676-6401

Well, another fall has started to sneak upon us.  With that comes the ever-changing rules of weaning and receiving calves.  Hopefully, I can help provide you with some ideas to make your weaning and receiving programs a little less stressful during what is projected to be a very wet and long fall harvest season.

Let’s get to it!  I sought out some information about what are some of the must do’s in receiving calves and weaning calves.  Here are some things that I discovered:

  1. Provide access to clean and fresh water.  Water is the most important of the essential nutrients and by far the most overlooked.  Calves are not familiar in most cases to a drinker, only to ponds, creeks and the occasional water hole.  Keep this in mind as it may take them longer to find an automatic waterer. Be mindful of the amount of waterer space as well for newly received calves and make adjustments accordingly.
  2. Be sure to provide ample fresh hay with adequate bunk space, this is one of the most common feeds calves see, and will entice them to come to the bunk. A good quality grass hay is always best for newly received and weaned calves.
  3. A palatable feed with very concentrated nutrients.  An example of that at All-American Co-op Progressive Ag Center are the Stress Care Products, not only are these in a tub form, but also come anywhere from a one pound pellet feed rate all the way up to a complete pelleted feed. These include chelated trace minerals to help support immune function as well as Diamond V yeast to promote gut health and improve digestibility of feeds. These products also have the options of no ionophores, Bovatec, or Rumensin for coccidiosis prevention and increased feed efficiency and conversion.
    1. Have show calves been taken out for next season?  Visit with us about how the Stress Care line can become a part of your show feed line up.
  4. Correct formulation for the right age and weight of calves.  Too many times there are assumptions made on intakes of calves, make sure you are getting the right program for your calves so they are getting all of the nutrients they need to excel.
  5. Keep NPN (urea) out of receiving diets.  Stick to very available resources that calves can digest with ease.  Use plant proteins, such as soybean meal, and quality alfalfa for protein sources.
  6. If we are feeding a high forage based receiving diet, be sure to offer a high-quality mineral as well to ensure that they are getting the vitamins and minerals that they need, trace minerals are also very important.  All American Co-op offers the Stress Care Tub that is formulated with chelated trace minerals and Diamond V yeast to help the calves combat disease during this stressful time and should be fed alongside a Stress Care program that is formulated by an All-American Co-op representative.
  7. Make sure to have feed and water accessible along pen boundaries, this will enable the calves to find the feed should they begin to pace the pen.  We also recommend placing a tub strategically around the pen to break this habit of pacing and sends those calves to the bunk rather than the corner or the bed pack to just lay down.
  8. Avoid the yo-yo effect, provide a consistent feed delivery time, as well as increase their feed intake according to their needs not our own idea of what we think they should eat.  A safe rule of thumb is to increase dry matter intake for every two to three days the bunk is slicked clean.  For yearlings this can happen every 7 to 10 days, where calves can take as long as 28-30days.
  9. One last thing is remember before you begin to process newly received calves, give them one hour of down time per hour of haul time.  If you are bringing in long haul calves be sure to give them ample recovery time before you run them through the chute.

There you have it folks “the do’s” of weaning/receiving calves.  Feel free to contact Mark Werner or myself at All-American Co-op Progressive Ag Center; we would be happy to help you with your fall receiving programs.  Have a safe and prosperous fall harvest!

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