How to stop a cow from nursing…
There are lots of reasons you may want to stop a cow from nursing:
- He’s a 2000 pound bull who is not supposed to be drinking your milk.
- You would like to have your butter.
- Your calf is getting huge.
- Your calf is getting old.
- You want to graph a new calf onto your cow & need her old calf to stop taking all the milk.
- You want to dry up your cow.
If you are drying up your cow because she is about to give birth it is critical that you get her current “calf” to stop nursing.
- your cow can’t “bag up”
- she can’t “take a break”
- AND that other cow will drink all the colostrum that the (unborn) baby needs to eat.
WHY WEANING CALVES OFF A JERSEY MILK-COW IS A CHALLENGE:
Jerseys will adopt anything. It doesn’t matter the size, breed, age, weight, or sex. If you have a Jersey cow who is producing milk she will want to feed everyone in her pasture.
TWO – Calves Remember their Mamas (even the adoptive ones)
Calves don’t forget. When our Jerseys have a female calf it is such a celebration. Boys are steaks, girls get to grow up and live and make lots of baby cows for us. Someone told me I was a sexist. That it wasn’t fair to eat the boy cows just because they are boys. She said I was discriminating. Ha!
Anyhow, here’s the scenario:
Your Jersey has a girl. You are elated. You have a new milk-cow on the homestead. Someone get out the cigars. Your Jersey raised your little heifer for you. She grew up eating milk & meadow & the world is a beautiful place. In 10 months your little heifer isn’t so little any longer. In fact, she is nearly as big as her mama and is still slurping up all your butter.
It is time to get the
calf cow off your cow.
This obviously isn’t going to happen as long as they are in a field together. Separating calves from their mamas is a necessary practice among farmers everywhere for a reason. If you want the calf to stop nursing – you have to get them away from the mama. I’ve been told that a beef mama will naturally wean their own offspring before a year but I have no experience or data to back that up. I have Jerseys and they don’t wean anything. I have to do the weaning.
HOW TO WEAN A CALF OFF YOUR COW-
THE SHORT ANSWER:
The easy answer is to put the calf in a separate field and let her scream for 10 days, get over it and grow up. After all, it’s time for this 10-month
calf cow to start becoming her own person and think about raising a cow-family of her own.
If you have multiple pastures this separation system will work.
New Pasture – Mama is gone. Mama can be dried up & they will never meet again.
What if I don’t have lots of fields?
On the other hand, if you have limited pastures and would like to keep your Jersey mama in the same field with her (all grown up) baby you are probably hosed. Yup, I said “hosed.”
On my farm, in my experience, it can’t be done.
We have tried everything:
FIRST: We separated them for MONTHS
As soon as we reunited them that stinkin’ calf went straight back to the udder.
SECOND: We separated them for months & dried up the Mama so there would be NO MILK when the calf came back into the field
Not only did the calf go straight back to the (dried up) udder – he actually got the milk production to start back up.
Yes, it brought her back into milk production. Yes, my dry cow who had not been milked in months who had been separated from her calf for months started making milk.
Did you hear that? People say that in order for a cow to produce milk she must have a baby every year… Uh. Not necessarily. Not all cows.
My DRY COW went right back to making milk as soon as that calf returned. Arg.
THIRD: We attached a horrifying metal appliance (recommended by our vet) to the calf’s face so he “couldn’t” nurse.
We tried it on frontwards (spikes facing the calf). We tried it on backward (spikes facing the cow).
Guess what? He still found a way.
There is one more technique that may work…..
- She may still adopt the calf (allow it to nurse) in the future whenever you decide to put him/her in the field.
- You will not have a calf to help you with the milking – this means you are milking 2 times a day every day. (How to milk once a day or less: here.)