Love your reply Ruth, couldn't have worded it better myself!
Re the cows maybe not needing to wean their 1st calf before the next is born, in preference to the later calves, that is not a good idea as the first calver is probably not in the best condition as an older cow weaning her 3rd, 4th or 5th calf or older as she will still be growing herself and if she calves at 2 it is said they will not be fully grown until they are 5 years old, so a bit of a break inbetween feeding #1 and #2 allows her to build a bit more size and condition.
This is the reply I received when I questioned Colin about his no wean idea. He is a stud Angus breeder who also does AI on all his cows plus a lot of embryo transplant work..
From my limited experience - the cows are pretty much dried off - and all seem to tell their calf close to calving that its time to stop. I have never seen an older calf trying to drink. Someone told me that they had an issue - but only with one cow/calf.
One of the latest steers I sent for processing was still really close to his mum. They always slept together - even though she had no milk to give him. It always gave me immense pleasure in seeing them together. Interesting enough - she did not seem to be upset that he was gone - unlike a traditional weaning.
I suspect you can leave your calves on their mothers until at least June or July, if they are not due to calve until much later in the year, as long as you have plenty of grass and hay to wean them on to. The beauty of autumn weaning is there is usually plenty of feed around so they do not get too much of a disruption to feed supply while it is still good quality.
This young lad was 7 1/2 months old when I took this on March 18th and he weighed 414kgs. He was weaned on Saturday April 13th aged 8 1/2 months, I'm sure his mother was only too pleased to have got rid of him!
Labrador lover for yonks, breeder of pedigree Murray Grey cattle for almost as long, and passionate poultry person for more years than I care to count.
Are they beef or dairy? If beef, if it's been quite a few months since they calved then their milk supply has usually reduced enough not to cause a problem.
Well bred dairy cattle can be harder to dry off - I've had Friesian girls still producing 25 litres of milk a day nearly two years after calving. But generally if you give them low quality food (hay is ideal) for a week or so before drying off and a couple of weeks after, they dry off quickly. Try to keep them out of mud, because mud on the end of the teats can introduce bacteria that cause mastitis. And check for any swollen, hot, sore or hard quarters during the dry off period.