The benefits of weaning calves at grass

As we move into October and grass quality diminishes, forward grazing calves in front of the cows from now until weaning/housing will give the calves a chance to choose the remaining better quality grass.

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Calves can be allowed to graze ahead by erecting a simple electric fence with a creep gate. To get calves used to the system, the whole herd could be put into the creep area for a relatively short period, perhaps up to half a day, depending on the size of the area. Return them to their existing field and then allow the calves through to the creep area via a calf creep gate or pop hole. Suckler cows can follow to tidy up paddocks before closing for winter, grazing to residuals of 1,500 kg DM/ha.

Benefits of creep grazing:

  • Calves get access to eat better quality grass
  • Acclimatises calves to being away from the herd and reduces stress during weaning
  • Can reduce concentrate requirement when practised earlier in the season
  • Troughs can be placed in the forward grazing area removing the need for a creep feeder

Plastic nose flaps can also be used to prevent the calf from suckling and encourage calves to graze more whilst still allowing contact with their mother.

Creep feeding forage brassicas and stubble turnips is another option or having forage available in an area not accessible by cows so calves can have some long fibre when the herd is on lush pastures in the autumn.

For more information on growing cattle post-weaning, watch our webinars:

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