18 September 1998

Plan weaning strategy

WEANING time is approaching for suckler herds, so planning and preparation should start now, says Elwyn Rees, ADAS senior livestock specialist.

"Weanlings should not be mixed with any other cattle, certainly not older cattle carrying respiratory diseases dangerous to youngstock. Keep bought-in calves separate for at least a month before mixing with home-bred calves, so they can settle without further stress."

Consider housing needs, says Oxon-based Dr Rees. Weaned calves should be kept in management groups of 20 or less. But there is no need to split them acc-ording to sex where store feeding.

"Now is also the time to plan winter rations. Have your forage analysed so you know its quality. Weigh weaned calves and set a target weight for turnout. Typically aim for a minimum growth rate of 0.7 kg/day for steers and 0.6 kg/day heifers."

Feeding store rations over winter will allow cattle to maximise compensatory growth at turnout. &#42