01 NOV 2023

The key benefits of an early weaning program

With current conditions, many producers simply don’t have the pasture base available to support a cow and calf unit for a traditional wean. 


This means many cows will struggle to maintain their production cycle with calves at foot. Many are looking toward undertaking early weaning initiatives. Gerard and Lucy Gallagher of their property ‘Tarrabah’ outside Tamworth have engaged Elders Senior Livestock Production Specialist Adam Turnbull to assist with tailoring an early weaning program to suit their operation.

Livestock production specialists develop and implement individual strategic livestock performance programs to meet the nutritional and animal health requirements for your stock as the seasonal conditions require. You can enlist a specialist to create plans to improve your herd health, add weight and protect the overall gain with the intention to make your operation more efficient and profitable.

Livestock production specialists enable producers to successfully wean earlier than usual, enabling the cow, and particularly heifers, to achieve key target weights resulting in getting back in calf sooner, therefore maintaining enterprise production.

Adam explained that weaning early reduces the energy requirement of the cow or heifer almost by half.

“Feeding a split unit is far more efficient than feeding a duel unit, whilst also reducing feed requirements, and is crucial in current commodity markets,” he said.

“Another key benefit in strategic weaning along with positive weaner weight gain is that stocking rates are maintained, whilst enabling enterprises like Gerard and Lucy’s to plan, forecast and meet desired markets for this season and into the future.

Gerard and Lucy have been working closely with Adam for a number of years.

“The benefit of early weaning is we’re feeding single units which will reduce the energy and feed requirement of the cow” Gerard said.

He went on to add, “the big benefit is it protects this year’s cash-flow, early weaning reduces the feed costs for the cow and over the longer term we’ll have a calf to sell next year at a healthy weaning weight”.

Watch the video to learn about the Elders early weaning program

Elders' Adam Turnbull, Senior Livestock Production Specialist, discusses the benefits and process of undertaking an early weaning program.

Adam and Gerard have been working together on several key livestock projects, with Adam also assisting with their sheep programs, including drench resistance trials.

Gerard said he would certainly recommend engaging an Elders livestock production specialist, due to the significant efficiencies Adam has been able to implement.

“I’d recommend engaging a livestock production specialist from Elders like Adam, simply because they’ve got all the technical data,” he said.

“They’re dealing with other farmers all the time, know what works and what doesn’t work. They’re in the box seat to do the research and we’re in the box seat to put it into practice, the relationship just works”.