Time To Weigh Weaned Calves Says MU Extension Specialist

   Beef cow-calf producers have worked hard since that 60 to 90 pound calf hit the ground in the late winter-early spring calving season. The hard work has involved feeding, rotating pastures, giving health treatments, parasite control, vaccinations, castration and now weaning.
   “At weaning it’s important to individually weigh calves before they are marketed. This weight provides invaluable information on genetics and management which aids the owner in future decision making,” said Eldon Cole, livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
   Weaning weights are traditionally adjusted to a 205-day basis. According to Cole, they may also be corrected for sex of the calf and age of the dam. Most weaning weights are taken between 160 and 250 days of age.
   “The weights help open your eyes to how much variation there is within your set of cows. It’s not uncommon to find a 150 to 200 pound variance in 205-day weights for calves out of a herd that has been managed alike,” said Cole.
   Important culling and herd replacement selection decisions are made easier when you have the cold hard facts of a 205-day adjusted weight.
   “When sires are known, you can use that for culling your bull battery along with the females. You may be surprised at which animals in your herd are carrying the load,” said Cole.
   The biggest excuse Cole hears for not getting individual calf weights is the absence of a scale.
   “Scales are reasonably priced and available at most farm stores,” said Cole.
   Scales may be the very simple beam type or the modern digital variety. The latter is preferred, according to Cole, and can be hooked up for computer input.
   Producers that have placed ear tags in their cows, calves, kept track of birth dates and perhaps even the sire identity, should complete the cycle and take individual weaning weights.
   “The information will help you make improvements and should increase your herd’s profitability,” said Cole. “The repeatability of weaning weights from a cow, year-to-year is fairly high. If you aren’t able to weigh every calf every year, at least try to get your first-calf heifer’s calves weighed. You’ll be surprised at how closely their first year’s weights follow the future offsprings’ weights." ∆

Visit with your MU Extension livestock specialist for the 
best time to wean calves

Photos credit: MU Extension
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