Another one of my favorite seasons in ranch life: Weaning Time! Besides the fact that I have 85 cows standing outside my house bawling for their calves, it is perfect weather to open the windows and let the fresh air in. Mornings this week have been dropping down into the mid-40s and low-50s; perfect weather for gathering cattle just after sunrise.
Most cattle ranchers wean their calves around seven months of age, or weighing from 500 to 700 pounds. Two weeks ago, calves here at MTREC were given pre-weaning vaccinations against common viruses in the area, and a booster shot this week at weaning. We put the calves in pens next to the barn, with plenty of bunk space for fresh hay, feed, and water. They will stay there two weeks or until everyone is settled. Then the heifers and steers will be sorted and turned out on pasture. Males were castrated when the calves weighed an average of 300 pounds. Giving pre-weaning vaccinations and castrating male calves will still nursing the cow greatly reduces stress at weaning and allows calves to build immunity.
After growing up with a larger cowherd and working on feed yards, I am used to a much faster pace. But I do not think I will complain about only having 85 weaned calves to handle. It will be nice to switch to a smaller perspective.