Age at weaning and prescription feeding may affect both feed efficiency and ultimate carcass quality of beef cattle.

Ohio State University researchers evaluated the effects of early (100 days) versus traditional (205 days) weaning ages, free access to feed versus programmed feeding, and two levels of dietary crude protein — 100% versus 120% of National Research Council recommended levels.

Treatment effects were independent of each other and accumulative. At 205 days, the early-weaned calves were heavier than contemporaries that remained on the cows. After weaning, steers weaned at 205 days consumed more feed and grew faster but did not completely catch up to steers weaned at 100 days. Thus, steers weaned at 100 days were harvested 34 days earlier than steers weaned at 205 days.

As expected, steers with free access to feed consumed more feed and grew faster than program-fed steers. However, feed efficiency was similar for both groups. Protein levels had little effect on performance.

For more information contact Francis Fluharty, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Wooster, OH, 330/263-3904.

Pasture weaning cuts stress, say University of Missouri (MU) researchers.

Moving to dry lot and being fed a weaning ration subjects calves to social, physical and environmental stress.

Although some of this stress is unavoidable, beef producers can minimize physical and social stress factors, say researchers at the MU Forage Systems Research Center (FSRC) in Linneus.

Three keys to successful calf weaning are keeping calves out of mud, getting them to eat as much as possible as soon as possible and using a well-structured vaccination program, MU researchers say.

They found physical and social stress factors were reduced through a program using stockpiled tall fescue pastures rather than lots for weaning.

With pasture weaning, calves have dry, mud-free coats and a familiar environment and feed source. To familiarize the calf with solid, non-forage feeds, 2-4 lbs./day of dried distillers grains, corn gluten feed, soybean hulls and whole-shelled corn should supplement the forage, the researchers say.

Other ways to minimize stress include castrating and paste dehorning at birth, working calves 30 days before weaning, vaccinating before weaning, calm movement of calves at all times, and putting cows and calves in adjoining pastures at weaning time.

For more information contact Wayne Shannon, University of Missouri Extension, at 636/528-4613 or e-mail