• Effects of Early Weaning Calves as a Management Tool

      Faulkner, Dan; Lowe, Victoria H.; Faulkner, Dan; Limesand, Sean; Garcia, Sam (The University of Arizona., 2017)
      The goal of a cow-calf producer is to produce a calf each year per cow. Research suggests that first year heifers struggle breeding back with their second calf because of the adjustments to new range/main herd conditions and the partitioning of nutrients between gaining weight, milk production, and gestation. This study was conducted at the V-V ranch at the University of Arizona for five years and looked at the effects on young cows when calves were weaned from first year heifers at 80 days rather than 205 days. Early weaning allows for gestational benefits because they are given the opportunity to adapt to herd conditions by applying feed resources to the in utero fetus and their own body condition rather than lactation. All first year heifers were included over three years, and were randomly assigned to two groups, normal weaning (NW) or early weaning (EW). This resulted in 122 heifers in the group whose calves were EW and 119 heifers in the group whose calves were NW. Heifers that were in the EW group bred back at a 27% higher rate in their second year, and had 15% greater longevity in the herd. Calves that were in utero when the nursing calves were early weaned were 16.4 kg heavier at weaning. Part of this was due to the age of the calf and part to gestational health. Early weaning was an effective strategy for improving reproductive performance of first year heifers as well as their survival rate in the herd to 5 years of age. It also resulted in improved performance for their in utero calves.