Livestock farmer – Kea Mnguni, Bronkhorstspruit, Gauteng
It’s weaning season for us and we are busy separating the weaners from the mothers. We move the mothers out of the camp and we take the calves to a distant camp. It takes between seven and 14 days for the calves to adjust to the fact they are no longer suckling.
We wean our calves at eight months and at weights of between 180kg and 200kg. Male weaners are sold to the feedlot and females are kept as replacement heifers. It is important for us to wean calves no later than eight months, before the body condition score (BCS) of their mothers drops below 2.5. It is better to wean before the mother’s BCS drops below 3 but this is not always possible.
This may be due to dry conditions when there is not enough grazing. We have just come through a very dry season and there is not enough grass in our camps while we wait for the rainy season.
We usually get our first rains in mid-September, but we’re hoping for early rains, as we’re having to feed out extra rations. Fortunately, we cut our own bales, which reduces our expenses. We also feed out winter licks, salt and production licks to the cows running with the bulls. Because the rainy season is about to start, we’ve just vaccinated for lumpy skin and Rift Valley fever.