Current Project

Management strategies to reduce weaning stress, and improve the health and productivity of newly weaned calves

Executive Summary

PURPOSE: The purpose of this project is to help determine the value of two-stage weaning as a viable and sustainable alternative to the conventional method of weaning beef cattle. It will test a refinement of the two-stage method designed to enhance calf performance and productivity in the feedlot. This project will also assist in establishing whether the reduction in the behavioural signs of distress that are seen with the two-stage weaning, translates into fewer health problems that are so commonly seen among newly weaned calves, which could reduce our use of antibiotics.

MAIN OBJECTIVES: Specifically, our project will: (1) test a refinement of the two-stage weaning method by modifying the nutritional management of the calves, to immediately allow them to compensate for the loss of milk in their diet, (2) compare the post-weaning intake of calves wearned by different methods, and (3) for the first time, track the health and productivity performance of calves weaned in two stages through background feeding phases, and compare them to calves weaned by the conventional method.

DELIVERABLES: This project will (1) deliver guidelines for beef producers about how to maximize the benefits of alternative weaning strategies, (2) improve our understanding of how different weaning mehtods affect the appetite and feeding behaviour of calves and weight gain during and after weaning, (3) provide evidence about the role of the weaning method itself on calf health post weaning, and (4) provide results of a direct test of whether the behavioural response to weaning is associated with health outcomes of calves in the weeks following weaning.

Completion Date: 2018

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