December 30th, we separated SirLoin from the herd and he has been in the round pen (not so round any more) getting weaned.
Honestly, the worst part of the weaning was getting him into the pen. However, there are certain challenges we didn’t think of prior to separating him. I offer the following advice to anyone who has never weaned a calf before (which included me, until December 30th). Most of the below list we had to accomplish on the fly, and I’ll hopefully think Patty Melt’s coming isolation through a bit better.
– Going back to previous posts, make the fence calf proof. Even the round pen had to have some work done to it in places, as it is very old and one of our cows recently picked up the ring and walked out from under it (another story!)
– Think through the next 30 days of your life. Any trips planned? Do you anticipate copious amounts of rain/snow?
– Have something to hold hay if it’s winter. Ideally, we could’ve waited until spring to wean the calf, but his cow really needs to gain some weight, so it was mostly for her benefit that we weaned when we did. However, I did not entirely think through the hay feeding process.
Having fed him his hay ration on the ground for the first day or so, I realized we would need some way to hold enough hay to get him through the day.
Creating the hay crib out of spare lumber we had around, I only broke one drill bit all day! Added bonus, I was outside and able to hear SirLoin calling to his momma. If he got quiet for more than 10 minutes, I started getting concerned.
– Shelter was another check box that didn’t cross my mind (can you tell, not much of this was well thought out…). When the calf was put into confinement, the weather was fair and a shelter wasn’t necessary. However, don’t expect it to stay that way forever. Not only was the shelter needed to keep the calf in the dry, but also to preserve the hay as much as possible.
There is now a tarp shelter in the pen that is tied to the round pen wall and off to two T-posts on an angle. At first, he was not appreciative of the flappy monster, but he’s come to love it.
– SO. MUCH. MUD. Get used to it!