Silence of the Calves


Out again.

However! This was quite handy because in the hay between the house and the goat yard is my favorite Glory Bee catching area. It’s a narrow area blocked on the far end by the goat pen. There’s only one way out, so it just takes one person to block the exit and another to go in and snap on the lead. Nowhere for the Bad Baby to go!

We could have used about 20 people to hold her head while we put on the calf weaner, but the other 18 didn’t show up. After some struggling (understatement), the deed was accomplished anyway.

Back to BP-land and mama. She went for it immediately.

And went for it.

And went for it!

All to no avail!

She can’t nurse! When she gets under BP, she has to shove upward to suck and the flap of the calf weaner falls down over her mouth.

There’s no way around it. But when she puts her head down to eat, she can “shake” it forward out of her way.

It took her a few minutes to figure out the system, but once she nailed it, she was fine.

Or as fine as a sad, spoiled overgrown baby can be when she can’t suck on her mommy anymore.

It’s disconcerting and discombobulating for everybody.

I will admit that I don’t like doing this–I’m such a spoiler with my animals, but then that’s part of the problem. I’d rather give Glory Bee cake and cookies and a trip to Disney World any day than put a calf weaner on her, but it has some good points, too. For one thing, it’s a necessity at this point. She’s a year old and a calf that big is hard on a mother’s udder. BP doesn’t need a cow nearly as heavy as she is bumping her udder and pushing her around. I’ve tried separating them for months at a time and she still isn’t weaned. I can’t put her back in the goat yard–the goats need that yard back to themselves and Glory Bee tears it up. We could put up electric in the first field in the meadow bottom, which I’d been planning before I found out about calf weaners, but then Glory Bee would have to be separated from BP. Both she and BP prefer to be together. The calf weaner enables me to keep them together and still wean her. I have no idea how long the calf weaner will need to stay on to be sure she’s weaned. It wasn’t easy putting it on, so I don’t want to be in a hurry taking it off. (If anyone is knowledgeable about how long we should keep it on to get the result of having her weaned, let me hear it!) Meanwhile, she’s sporting a stylish Hannibal Lechter look for fall. Just in time for Halloween!

After putting her back in with BP and observing her test-run trying to milk, I turned around to find this.

It never ends around here, I tell ya!


  1. Liz Pike says:

    Just hope she doesn’t bump the electric fence with it!! But that’s a great/simple solution! Will be interesting to see how it plays out!

  2. Canner Joann says:

    I’m not a farmer, but I’m a little surprised that BP didn’t wean GB on her own. Is your situation common? Well, I guess it must be, since they make and sell calf-weaners!


  3. Hlhohnholz says:

    WOOHOO!!! SO glad you got it worked out, Suzanne. Since GB has shown herself to be resistant to weaning thus far, I would leave it on at LEAST 6 weeks, preferably 8. It doesn’t hurt her, and doesn’t get in her way, so there’s no harm in leaving it on longer than you may need. But if you take it off too soon, you’ll be starting from scratch. We had a cow that had to wear hers all of calving season (3-4 months!) because she wouldn’t stop sucking other cows. You may want to leave GB’s fancy jewelry in until you dry BP up for her next calf. Has she had her pipes laid…Err….Checked yet?? 😀 Oh, and for the first couple of days, make sure to check GB often. Those weaners are somewhat adjustable, depending on the width of the septum, so it may fall out if it’s not tight enough.

  4. bonita says:

    I second Joanne’s comment. You must not be the first to have this problem.

  5. enjay says:

    Joanne, in my personal experience with the few dairy cows we put calves on a good portion of them didn’t wean the babies on their own. My opinion is that while dairy cows have been bred mostly with milk production in mind, they’ve also been selected for, among other things, long lactation cycles. Cycles that are far longer than would naturally occur. It makes sense then that some of the cows would seem to have lost the instinct to wean when they have a calf on them. After all, no farmer wants their cows to wean them and their dairy check!

  6. CarrieJ says:

    Tell Glory Bee I like it, it’s a good look for her so she should sport it proudly!

  7. Anita says:

    Cows and weaning are completely foreign to me. BUT having watched this little drama play out, I’ve found two cents I’d like to pitch in. I’m not sure how old a calf has to be in order to be bred, but GB might not quit suckling until she has a calf of her own planted. If nothing else I’d agree with those folks who suggested leaving it until BP is dried off in anticipation of her next calf. I would worry tho that if Glory Bee tried hard enough, she could start the milk up again.

  8. lizzie says:

    Dear Suzanne, I always learn something new! when I checked this out I thought “What in the HECK is that” you are right, GP looks like Hannibal Lechter! but MUCH CUTER!!! :woof:

  9. whaledancer says:

    It’s not as though GB is the first of your animals to wear jewelry…

  10. bayvistafarm says:

    Hi there! I am new to this site, and I love it! I would like to comment on weaning of the Jersey heifer. Seeing as how she has sucked her for so long.. she may never be completely weaned. Just this summer, we put a heifer we kept back for breeding into the cow herd to be bred.. and she ended up sucking the cows. She was 18 months old. Get this. Her mama wasn’t even here, because I had sold her and her 2011 calf because she would wait for cows to freshen, and then when they were busy licking the calf, she would happily suck the colostrum out of the new mom from between her back legs. This is totally hereditary, I would like to think, but how could it be lol. Its happened here in the past.. some of them just ‘lose’ their heads, in more ways than one, lol. So, shes back in the feedlot. Too bad, because shes pregnant too. No one wants a sucker. I thought about getting one of those rings to deter her, but with so many cows.. its not worth the aggravation.

  11. farmgrammy says:

    Now, if Baby just had teeth like kittens have, Mama would smack her sideways after a certain time! One Siamese we had nursed her mom for well over a year, and was bigger than her mom, until finally the teeth got too sharp. Talk about a cat fight! Funny. Maybe you could put false teeth on the calf, so it would pinch the cow and cause her to kick??? Just fantasy here… LOL

  12. Milkmaid says:

    We have faced the same dilemma. Our Jersey steer calf (Louis Pasture) did not want to wean. Like his older sister, we separated him at 5 months. Initially he was in half a shed but once the winter weather warmed and with our pasture setup we are able to separate them close to each other with just electric fence. We assumed he would be like his older syster and be weaned after a few months and we could put them all together again. WRONG. After more than 3 months separation he was happy to help himself and Momma went right along. So we separated him again. However, because we hand milk in moving sheds out in the pasture, summer milking is unbearable with the flies – unless you like buckets being kicked every 5 seconds. So, to keep her in milk until the fall we decided to experiment with putting them together for the summer. The experiment worked well (other than her teats taking a beating) and we are now back to milking with him separated by electric fence. But this will be much more difficult in the winter. We also got a weaning ring – but one of the plastic ones with spikes. We took a look at that, then looked at his nose and like you were looking for those 18 other people to help put it on (and take it off later). They didn’t show up and we haven’t tried yet. The research we did indicated we would have to leave it in for 4 to 6 weeks. That’s fine but what if it has to stay longer? Where did you get yours, we didn’t run across that style when we were researching? We were thinking the spikes might be better because they would both prevent the calf from nursing AND make the cow not want the calf near her. (I shouldn’t say calf – he is bigger than she is and we think we saw him lying down to nurse one day.) We keep telling him to “just grow up” but he doesn’t listen. Cows are herd animals, they like to be together and will do much better together – that’s why they invented weaning rings. Something that may have helped the process work with his sister was we had 5 beef heifers come to stay when it was time to put her with her Mom. She was more interested in the beef calves her own age than being with Mom. We didn’t have this option with Louis.

  13. Milkmaid says:

    Suzanne: Wanted to thank you for the link to NASCO. Found a differnt style weaning ring that opened a lot wider – “calf Plastic Swing Arm Weaner”. Following Temple Grandon’s low stress handling (we just read her book titled Animals Make Us Human and found it extremely helpful with the cows) plus our experience applying positive reinforcement training (you may have heard of clicker training or operant conditioning – I raise service dog puppies and we use it for all their training) I was able to get Louis accustomed to the ring first. Would show it to him and touch his nose with it, then scratch him – he loves that. This is out in the open pasture where he is free to leave. Did this for about 10 minutes for two days and then tried today again twice. Second time I just fiddled with it and slipped it on. This was sort of by mistake – we were just out in the pasture. My husband slipped the halter on, we walked a few steps to a tree, snubbed his head so I could tighten down the ring and then we were done. He wanted to be scratched some more and was wondering what that thing was but he is doing fine with it. We are hoping this will work because we are sending off his sister tomorrow and really want him to be able to stay in the same area with his Mom. We have enough pasture to do separate but they are happier together and, as you know, hay handling is better kept to a minimum. Again, thanks for the info on NASCO. And for cheap entertainment go to yuTube and type in Jersey Cow Spins. That is our cow Hyacinth trained by my husband to spin in a circle – using clicker training.

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