On many farms operating autumn-calving suckler herds, there is a strong preference to calve cows in August and September.

It allows cows to calve outdoors or be returned to grass within 24 to 48 hours of calving if animals had to be housed for assistance, thereby cutting out a lot of work post-calving.

Calves born in August and September will be close on seven to eight months of age and, as such, they will be ready to wean now.

The wet spring means many autumn herds remain housed, presenting an opportunity to wean calves before turnout. Use creep pens to make weaning easier on animals in terms of stress.


For cows that are naturally lacking milk, aim to wean calves over one week. If cows have stronger milking ability, wean calves over 10 days in a controlled manner.

Start by locking calves off cows during the day and overnight. Offer cows low-quality silage to reduce milk production during this period.

Allow calves in to suckle cows in the evening and morning. Calves should have the cow’s udder emptied in less than 30 minutes.

Midway through the week, restrict the calf’s access to its dam to just a single feed. It can be morning or evening, whichever is most practical for you.

By the end of the planned week or 10 days, calves should be locked off cows completely and fully weaned.

Make sure calves are properly barricaded from cows if they remain penned side by side. Some animals will put their head through gaps in dividing gates in an effort to suckle cows.

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