How Long Does It Take to Wean a Calf From the Cow and Return the Calf to a Herd?

Calves can be weaned in one to four weeks, depending on the breed, age and weaning method. Most methods involve separating the mother and calf. Some involve moving the calves to another herd or putting a strong, small-holed fence between the mother and calves to reduce the stress to both.

Calves should be weaned between the ages of 7 and 8 months. This age depends on the condition of the mothers rather than the calves themselves, as the calves are deriving the entirety of their nutrition from their mothers. The calves can be weaned when they are closer to 8 months if there is adequate feed to maintain the mother’s health. Calves should not be weaned when they are younger than 6 months unless there is a drought or a food shortage, as they may suffer significant developmental setbacks.

Most weaning methods involve moving the calves and their mothers where they can’t see or hear each other because they look for each other when separated. A close-stranded fence can be used when it is not possible to move the calves that far from the mother.

Nose plates can be fitted on the calves in the event the calves can’t be physically separated from their mothers. The nose plates prevent suckling while allowing the calves and mothers to remain close.