Weaned calves acclimatise to new surroundings with maremma guardians

Weaned calves take in their new surroundings

Weaned calves take in their new surroundings

We’ve weaned a bunch of calves and they love their new surroundings by the forest. When I took this picture, they were still a little overwhelmed, walking quietly around the paddock.

At our farm, calves are weaned relatively late. The calf rearing experts say you can wean a calf as soon as she’s eating at least 1.5kg of grain or pellets per day but, in my view, it doesn’t hurt to offer them milk for a bit longer. Calves are the future of our dairy farm and we don’t skimp on their wellbeing.

We’ve chosen a paddock far from the dairy that offers shelter from cold weather and shade from the sun. Cows are kept off this pasture to minimise the risk of transmitting disease like Bovine Johnes Disease from one generation to another. Aside from buying in bulls to preserve genetic diversity, we have a closed herd and no history of the muscle-wasting BJD but it’s good practice to keep stock under 12 months old off pasture that’s been grazed by mature cows.

While the pic doesn’t show them, maremmas Charlie and Lola have been staying close to their charges and I’m hopeful the transition will extend their range.

6 thoughts on “Weaned calves acclimatise to new surroundings with maremma guardians

  1. They do look fabulous Marian! Well done! How old are your girls when you wean them?
    I wean my babies at three months, when they are eating 2kg of grain.

    • Thanks Jackie – it depends, really. We wean most at about three months too but some are four months. Aside from their grain intake, we look at the demeanour of the calves (how assertive they are, I guess) and how rapidly they’re putting on weight. Any that are a bit timid or small get held back until they’re ready to compete with their sisters for a space at the feed trough! Because we’re shifting the calving pattern pretty radically, we’ve got a long season so are planning to have two groups of weanlings (big and small), which allows us to feed accordingly and make sure nobody misses out. This worked really well last year and the littlies caught up quite quickly.

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