It may be July and weaning time may seem like a long way off, but an important aspect of the weaning process is to not just reduce stress on the calves, but optimized the sale weight at market time.
That makes parasite control another aspect of weaning management. Research shows the benefit of deworming calves, according to Ron Gill, associate department head, Extension, at Texas A&M University. “If we deworm at branding, we see increase in weaning weight, at least here in our part of the country. This may be different farther west or north in drier environments where parasites may not be such an issue. In the South, however, we’ll see a good response to deworming calves,” he says.
“If we can keep parasite loads down until calves can develop natural resistance or tolerance for parasites, this helps. Otherwise, a heavy parasite load puts a drain on nutrients and stress on the immune system. Whether or not it pays to deworm calves will depend on your climate and rainfall, how contaminated the pastures might be and history of parasite loads in cattle on your ranch. If calves are heavily parasitized, this adds another drain and stress on their system,” he says.
“Some people don’t want to work calves in the heat of summer and feel it’s too stressful. But the benefits outweigh the stress of processing the cattle in July. It just needs to be done early in the day before it gets too hot, and not during a heat wave.”
Smith Thomas is a rancher and freelance writer based in Salmon, Idaho.