Children starting school are a lot like calves getting weaned. Each individual is different. For some, the experience is more stressful than for others, but careful preparation by their caretakers can help make the whole experience much more productive.

"Producers need to plan way ahead of the time period when they will start weaning, while also paying attention to their calves throughout the production system," says Max Irsik, Extension veterinarian at the University of Florida. Watching indicators like the cow condition, range quality and general calf health can help producers decide on the best time to wean.

"At birth it is important that calves have a good mother. The cows need to be healthy, maternal, in good body condition, provide high quality colostrum, and then adequate milk during the suckling period," he says.

"Prior to separation, calves should be immunized a minimum of one time, preferably two for the clostridial and respiratory diseases, de-horned, de-wormed, castrated and individually identified," Irsik says. Producers should also get them used to different sights and sounds.

"Being out with the cows, looking at the calves, getting the cows and calves used to being around people, traffic and folks on horseback - all of those things can have an effect later on, helping to reduce stress for both the cow and calf ," he says.

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