Ask any cattle producing man or woman about weaning time and they'll tell you it can be one of the more stressful times of the year, for the calves, the cows, and the producers.

The other day I was checking a weaning yard [photo above] with Dan Soulek from the Armour-Wagner area. They have a yard set up where the cows can be in a separate pasture, but still able to be on 3 sides of their newly separated calves. Soulek's setup includes the option for cows and calves to drink out of the same water tank which also helps with separation anxiety. 

A few years ago, I was riding horses with Jerry Talsma who ranches near Niobrara, Nebraska. I asked about the high fence they had, out in the middle of the pasture. He said they used it for weaning. For his operation, it worked best to have the calves and the cows out in a pasture environment as they weaned the calves from the cows.

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While at Dakotafest in Mitchell, I talked with Lori Repenning DVM who worked for 20 years in the Parkston area as a Vet and now teaches at the school. She mentioned that producers have various methods to the sometimes madness of weaning calves. Repenning also said, drier conditions have producers thinking about weaning sooner this year and said the weaning process takes about a week. She added that a cow that is no longer feeding a calf, consumes far less feed per day.

Some producers then 'background' their calves which is simply converting the calves from Milk and Mom to grain and other feeds as they prepare for their next stage, the feedlot. In some cases, they'll be off to the sale barn and on to feedlots.

If you live on a farm or grew up on a farm chances are you had nervous nights wondering if your fencing would hold. In many cases, weaning time warrants as many trips to check on the livestock as actual calving season. The constant bawling from the cows and calves can be unnerving as well. The normally quiet, content mummer morphs to sometimes overwhelming almost obnoxious drone from anxious animals.

There are many stages of work and planning our producer friends go through during the process of helping to put dinner on your table. Weaning is another one of those stages and weaning season is on in South Dakota and area states.

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