The calendar and the trees tell me it is fall and that means one thing to a cattle rancher. It is weaning time. This is the time of the year when the calves born this spring have grown and matured to the point that they no-longer need their mother's milk. They are eating grass and can easily function on their own.
However, we, ranchers, realize that weaning can be stressful on the calves and cows and do all that we can to minimize this stress. Quite a bit of research has been done on this subject and weaning methods have been developed to reduce the stress on the calves and the cows. The most common method is called fence-line weaning. The cows are placed on one side of the fence and the calves on the other side. This allows the calf to get used to being on it's own while still having nose to nose contact with the cow.
I assure you that a good fence is a must in this method and can require repeated separating of the calves and cows. However, after a couple of days the calves and cows gradually settle down and can be separated to more distant pens.
Why do we go through these measures? The biggest reason is to lessen the stress on the calves and cows. This ultimately improves the calves immune system and reduces the chances that the calves will require treatment for illnesses later. We really care about the animals we spend our lives raising. Kind of a different story than you here from the so called watch-groups who would have you believe all beef animals are constantly medicated.
The truth is that as a beef producer, I want to reduce or even eliminate the use of anti-biotics on my ranch. I want my cattle to be healthy, stress-free and grow to their full potential. They cannot do this if they are stressed and/or sick. Extension and industry researchers are constantly looking for ways to produce beef stress-free thus reducing the number of animals requiring treatment.
Let me also assure you that the few we treat on our farm are safe for consumption. We follow all withdrawal periods to insure the medicine is out of their system before they end up on your dinner table. We feed our families the same meat you feed your family. It is our mission to care for our animals from birth until they reach your freezer to provide wholesome, healthy, safe food. That is why I will spend my day preparing fences and pens to provide my calves a low stress weaning experience.