Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Weaning Time

Fall is fast approaching which means several things: 1) cooler weather 2) the leaves will begin changing colors 3) Labor Day weekend with my family 4) the calves will be coming home from summer grass.

In every young animals life there comes a time when it must be separated from it’s mother and begin life on it’s own.  For our baby calves, that “time” is at about 8 months of age.  This may seem harsh and even sad if you are unfamiliar with livestock production.  These calves are fully capable of being on their own: they no longer need their mothers milk and they rely on forages and grain as their source of nutrition.  Eight months seems like a relatively short period of time, but not when you compare it to the life cycle of a cow.  These heifer calves will have hit puberty and be able to conceive a calf by the time they are 12-15 months of age (on average).  The gestation of a cow is about 9 months so most heifers have their first calf when they are 2 years old.  On the flip side, bull calves (the boys) are able to breed a female at a year old. Castrated male calves are either fed on forages, grain in a feedlot, or a combination of the two until they reach a mature weight and are ready for harvest.

I am excited about going home this weekend because I will have an opportunity to see all the calves and spend time with my family.  That is one of the neat things about families involved in the cattle industry in general, it is a family affair!

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