Raising welfare at calf weaning could increase productivity and profitability

UK - Improving beef weaning practices could pay dividends in terms of productivity, profitability and animal welfare, according to research carried out at Grange Research Centre, County Meath, Ireland.
calendar icon 18 October 2006
clock icon 1 minute read
Outlining methods to minimise the impact on weaned calves, Teagasc's Bernadette Earley explained the advantages of approaching weaning in a more cautious and responsible way.

"Try not to wean calves abruptly and not before they are eating at least 1kg a day of creep feed," said Dr Earley. "Leading up to and during the weaning period, concentrate levels should be increased.

"Move cows away from calves gradually and try wherever possible to reduce stress. Avoiding dehorning, castrating or housing on the day of weaning reduces the strain put on animals, which can inhibit growth rates post-weaning," she added.

"After weaning, watch closely for at least three weeks to monitor patterns of growth. The earlier calves are accustomed to new conditions the earlier liveweight gain is maximised," reckoned Dr Earley.

The importance of an initial vaccination and booster vaccination at weaning was also underlined by Dr Earley. "Controlling respiratory diseases can only be done using a rigorous vaccination programme, which in turn will improve cost efficiency in the long run."

Source: fwi.co.uk
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