Calves with an immature rumen at weaning often fall victim to respiratory illness during this time.

“We are asked frequently to treat pens of heifers at this age with abnormally high rates of respiratory illness,” says Sam Leadley, calf-care expert with Attica (N.Y.) Veterinary Associates.

You can help prevent that by making sure her rumen is adequately prepared before weaning. Use this checklist to determine if a calf is ready to be weaned:

  • Has the calf been eating starter grain for at least three weeks? Start counting days on grain when she regularly cleans up about 0.5 cups of grain per day.
  • Is the calf eating at least 2 pounds of starter per day?
  • Is the calf generally healthy and growing? Delay weaning if the calf’s immune system is stressed.