Study shows that weaned pasture calves regain weight faster


Study shows that weaned pasture calves regain weight faster

October 10 2022

Calves weaned on pasture lost less weight in the first 21 days after weaning

Recent research at the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station shows that ranchers may be able to relieve stress in weaned calves and improve the bottom line.

Results from the first year of this three-year study showed that calves regained more weight in the first 21 days of weaning on pasture, either with or without physical contact with their mothers, than in a “dry area” used to forage cattle in ponds.

Weaning, which is the process of removing a calf from its mother’s milk, reduces the likelihood of developing respiratory diseases that can lead to lower performance and earnings compared to unwanted calves, said Daniel Rivera, director of the Southwest Center for Research and Extension and principal investigator in the field. the study.

“This is probably one of the biggest revenue losses in livestock production,” Rivera said of undercooked calves.

He said USDA data indicates that ranchers who do more extensive operations tend to wean their calves more often than ranchers who do smaller operations.

“In terms of helping them make the transition to that next transition, and looking at it from a pasture-based system, it’s probably a little easier on the animal than we traditionally do with a ‘dry area,'” Rivera said.

“Dr. Rivera’s research highlights the significant impact that social and housing environments can have on farm animals during stressful and necessary breeding practices,” said Shauna Weimer, director of the Center for Nutritional Animal Welfare. “Weaning is one of the most stressful times for calves, and it is great to see Dr Rivera’s team working on practical and resource-efficient weaning methods to relieve stress and facilitate good animal welfare.”

Animal Welfare Nutrition Center It is a unit of the Department of Agriculture at the University of Arkansas. The experiment station is the research arm of the department.

Rivera also noted the potential cost savings for ranchers. In the study, it cost about $2.50 per person per day in the “dry areas” group for 56 days. The cost of foraging for the two control groups is approximately US$ 1.10 per head per day for this time period. In cases where a 28-day pre-conditioning program is required, Rivera said it may be more economical to wean on pasture for the first 28 days. a “conditional” The calf has been properly vaccinated and can eat and drink from ponds and beds.

the study

About 115 calves were weaned from Angus from September through the end of November in the 2021 study. The calves being grazed, Rivera said, graze on Bermuda grass and are fed supplementation in a feed trough at a limited rate to match the energy-containing calves received in the dry area. One group of grazed calves – dubbed for the study “Fenceline” – had nose-to-nose physical contact with their mothers. The other group of pastures – called ‘grazing’ in the study – had no contact with their mothers.

Weaned calves were weighed every seven days until day 28. The final weight of all calves was at day 56.

While all calves lost weight in the first week away from their mothers, the “dry lotus” group shed the most weight and then gained less weight again during the first three weeks of weaning.

The weight of the “Fenceline” group decreased immediately after weaning. At 14 days, calves weaned in a pasture away from their mothers exceeded the body weight of pheniclene calves weaned

Rivera said that he and his colleagues believed that the steady increase in weight during the first 21 days of two groups of calves weaned on pastures was due to the familiar environment and forage.

At 28 days, all three groups were about 20 pounds heavier than when they were first weaned. On day 56, the “Dry Lot” group surpassed my two rangers in body weight change.

The first year of this study showed that the calves did not gain more weight simply because they were in direct contact with their mothers on nearby pastures.

The study’s preliminary results are consistent with data from the Mississippi State University’s Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station that showed in calves affected by Brahman it took up to 14 days after weaning before they consumed enough feed to meet maintenance requirements.

Part of the benefit of the Arkansas study, Rivera said, is to show that producers don’t need a lot of additional facilities to wean their calves. Pasture space and a dedicated forage trough are the two main requirements. While calves can be weaned on non-adjacent pastures, or a grazing field, using an electric “hot wire” fencing, Rivera said that weaning a “fence” that allows nose-to-nose contact between the calf and its mother requires more robust “net wire” fencing.

“Just a hot wire fencing will be torn apart by the cows trying to reconnect, so in these cases we use a solid wire fencing,” Rivera said of the weaning “fence.”

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