Weaning

Weaning is the next critical event in the calf's life. Weaning deprives the calf of nutrients derived from suckling, but breaking the social attachment between calf and dam is much more stressful. Research on wild and feral cattle shows that calves may stay with their dams for an entire year. Thus, weaning at six months is premature to the nature of cattle and has the potential for distress. The amount of stress the calf is experiencing can be observed from the amount of fence pacing and bawling the calf performs after weaning. These behaviors, along with the stressful state, dissipate over a period of several weeks. Researchers have used several methods to reduce the stress of weaning. Price et al.[1] found that separating the dam and the calf, but allowing fence line contact, reduced distress and minimized weight loss.[1] Haley et al.[2] used nose rings that prevented the calf from nursing for 14 days prior to weaning. Upon weaning, the calves exhibited fewer signs of distress.

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