Although we didn’t consult the Farmer’s Almanac regarding the best dates to wean the calves, our 2012 weaning was the easiest ever.
In order to minimize weaning stress, we practice fenceline weaning, which means that the only thing that separates the cows from the calves is one fence. Emotional distress is kept to a minimum if mamas can see and communicate with their calves and vice-versa. We’ve yet to have a calf go off feed or get sick.
For fenceline weaning to work, however, the fence must be an effective barrier to travel. Our 2011 weaning was very stressful for us because one of the calves, Yogi, kept escaping from the corral. By all appearances, Yogi was too fat to crawl out and too short to jump out, but out he repeatedly got! (We never caught him in the act.) Recapturing Yogi was an ordeal because his mama, Teddy Bear, was a mean, over-protective Angus menace to society. (Her belligerence earned herself a free ticket to the sale barn.)
Readers may remember, Penelope, our youngest calf, who is a free spirit for whom fences are merely a suggestion. We didn’t expect to keep her in the weaning pen without drastic fortifications such as electricity, barbed wire, concrete, and security guards.
Imagine our surprise when Penelope not only stayed put but took weaning in stride! While the other calves bawled, Penelope munched hay, and while they paced, she napped. Her composure must have had a comforting effect because the misery and noise levels seemed much reduced from previous seasons.
Nevertheless, Penelope still goes pretty much wherever she wants--like right into the middle of the feeder!
“…He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives….” –ISAIAH 61:1