Earliest I can wean a calf from its mother

Producer Question from 2012

Q:  What is the earliest I can wean a calf from its mother? (June 26, 2012)

A:  Dairy producers wean calves after a few days of age and, with a planned and well-designed feeding and herd health program, get by fine.

For beef cows, there are data where calves have been weaned at 45 days of age and again with a well-designed feeding and herd health program, the calves will do well. For calves that are that young at weaning, you need to be set up with bunks and watering facilities so that smaller calves have easy access to them. Rations for these calves need to include high quality feeds because you are working with an animal that has a high nutrient demand and has a small rumen. Diets need to be dust free and ingredients need to be of similar size so that they can't be sorted by the calf.

Dr. Rick Rasby Dr. Rick Rasby, Professor of Animal Science
Animal Science, University of Nebraska - Lincoln, Lincoln, NE