“When many people are stressed, they eat a lot; calves tend to do the opposite, which can lead to health concerns such as depressed immune systems and an increase in death rate post-weaning,” said Earl Ward, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension area livestock specialist headquartered in Muskogee.
In a two-stage weaning process, the calf is weaned away from milk before it is weaned away from the cow. A nose flap is used to prevent the calf from nursing.
“This is not a new concept, but it has been improved upon over the years,” Ward said. “It is recommended that producers evaluate the calf nutrition programs once the nose flaps are in place. Replacing the milk with a nutrient-dense diet will allow the animal to transition faster.”
Ward added it is important to remember that while two-stage weaning will reduce the calf’s stress level, the producer needs to keep a close eye on the animal’s nutrition to ensure a financial return.
“Typically, it is recommended a nose flap be installed five to seven days prior to weaning,” Ward said. “Be sure to inspect the device to eliminate any sharp edges before installation so as to lessen the likelihood of nose sores in the calf.”
Ward reminds producers that post-weaning performance is greatly dependent on the quality and quantity of the feed or forage supplied to the animal. If forage is low in either quality or quantity, the addition of supplemental protein or energy may be necessary.
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