Weaning cattle using noserings will cost graziers almost half that of yard weaned stock, according to a trial undertaken by the Department of Regional Development, Primary Industry, Fisheries and Resources (DRDPIFR) in Alice Springs.
In 2008 the DRDPIFR undertook a trial on three of its Northern Territory properties to test the use of EasyWean noserings compared to traditional yard weaning.
The aim of the trial was to study the effect of weaning stress and the costs involved. Weaning stress leads to significant weight loss among calves and the trial was examining ways to reduce this weight loss.
Stress associated with weaning is the result of both the loss of milk and separation of the calf from its mother. By eliminating or delaying the separation, the stress from weaning is greatly reduced. The use of EasyWean nose rings allows the calves to be weaned without having to separate them from their mothers.
Results from the study made it apparent that weaning with EasyWean noserings almost halved the cost per head of weaning. However, it was also noted that the weaners produced were less educated.
Regarding weight loss, the trial on Old Man Plains Research Station recorded that calves with an EasyWean nosering grew at an average of 0.82kgs per day for the first 14 days while their yard weaned counterparts lost weight. When taken off their mothers the nosering group did lose some condition, but the extent and duration of the loss was greatly reduced.
The DRDPIFR trial acknowledged that different enterprises have different management objectives. With this in mind, it concluded that using EasyWean noserings would be beneficial for:
- Graziers who do not handle their cattle frequently but wish
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to manage the weaning process.
- Properties which have poor fencing and yarding facilities.
- Situations where the weaners have fresh dehorning or castration wounds. Holding such animals in yards increases the risk of infection.
- Enterprises which use high-density grazing and prefer to run large herds and minimize the number of mobs.
- Graziers who wish to run their weaners with the breeder mob during the weaning process.
- Enterprises which wish to reduce the cost of weaning.
EasyWean® is not designed to prevent the calf from suckling. Although the nosering does act as a barrier and pushes the teat out of reach, it is designed to encourage the cow to wean her own calf. The discomfort is with the cow when the calf tries to suckle, and the spikes of the nosering irritate her udder. She will then move away.
For more information on this trial refer the DRDPIFR internal publication, Alice Springs Rural Review; Aug/Sept 2008 or contact EasyWean or refer to the website www.easywean.com.au