Submitted to: Western Section of Animal Science Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/21/2005
Publication Date: 6/20/2005
Citation: Bohnert, D.W., Ganskopp, D.C., Johnson, D.D., Falck, S.J. 2005. The effects of early weaning on cow performance and grazing behavior in the intermountain west. Western Section of Animal Science Proceedings. 56:267-270
Technical Abstract: Our objective was to determine the influence of early weaning and traditional weaning on cow performance, grazing behavior of cattle foraging on sagebrush steppe rangelands, as well as their subsequent winter feed costs after treatment. After weaning, cows were fed for 110 days to attain a body condition score of 5 by 1 month prior to calving. Traditionally weaned cows lost 0.5 points of body condition score and 97 pounds while the early weaned cows gained 0.4 points of body condition score and 26.5 pounds between early weaning and the traditional weaning date. After 110 days of feeding, there was no difference in weight or body conditioned scores for early weaned and traditionally weaned cows. However, winter feed costs were $28.00 greater for traditionally weaned cows compared to early weaned cattle. Grazing time, distance traveled, number of visits to water, and cow distribution in rangeland pastures were unaffected by weaning treatments. Results suggest that early weaning can improve cow body condition scores as animals begin entering the winter feeding period. Early weaning can also decrease winter feed costs. Cow grazing behavior was not affected by weaning treatment.