By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com
Weaning - the practice of separating calves from their mothers’ source of milk is a stressful time for both cows and calves, especially for the calf. Choosing the right time of the month to wean can reduce stress on the animals and help with a smoother transition.
So how does a farmer pick the best time to wean calves? Weaning calves by the moon, using the farmer’s almanac calendar is something that some farmers swear by – it’s certainly something my dad believes. Like a farmer’s tale, it’s suggested that the phases of the moon can influence calves behavior.
There is some variation of the folklore tale, if it is better to wean before or after full moon, but waiting to wean calves until as close to the new moon as possible is the practice. In addition to weaning calves by the moon, those who believe in this farming method would also advocate the same for castration and dehorning.
Several years ago, my dad was having trouble with replacement heifers sucking other cows. In a farmer-to-farmer conversation, with at that time a seasoned cattle producer, my dad received some advice – wean your heifer calves around full moon and you will never have that problem again. My dad, who was desperate to find a solution to his problem, took up the advice and sure enough we have never had the problem occur again.
I don’t claim to be an expert in weaning cattle, so I would advise you consult a veterinarian for best weaning practices for your farming operation. We recently weaned a group of calves - the cows are back to normal and the calves ‘moo-athon’ as I call it seems to be dying out. I will let you know how it goes!