When we look at weaner throughput for your business we have to first look at the four main procedures that will help you achieve this. These four main procedures are:

1. Maximise live calves: Your farming enterprise should aim to maximise the number of live calves per breeding female. Achieving this, you must focus on:

  • Fertility
  • Nutrition
  • Guidelines for heifer management and nutrition (as explained in more detail under subsection 1) which include puberty, critical mating weight and the minimum and maximum mating values.
  • Genetics.
  • Manage fertility to maintain a calving interval every 365 days.
  • Select cows capable of conceiving within two mating cycles.

2. Control the mating period to maintain selected annual calving dates: To reduce the spread of calving you should aim:

  • For 95% of cows to calve in a 9 week period.
  • For 80% pf cows to conceive by the end of the second oestrus cycle.
  • Take corrective action when less than 20% of cows conceive in the third oestrus cycle. 

You should try to measure:

  • Mature Cows.
  • Dystocia.
  • Supervise heifers (and twin) calving.
  • Ensure heifers are in good physical condition at calving.
  • Manage bulls for high conception.
  • Use two fertile bulls per 100 cows for normal conception rates.
  • Take particular care of bulls when single sire mating.
  • Manage bulls carefully pre-mating to achieve high conception rates.
  • Poor bull management can significantly decrease fertility.
  • The ideal condition for a bull prior to mating is condition score 3.0.
  • Assess bulls for physical soundness pre-mating.
  • A serving ability of 2–3 servings in 10 minutes is essential for high conception.
  • Join high serving ability bulls with heifers.
  • If artificial insemination (AI) is used, the correct procedures are required to ensure high conception and calving rates. 
  • Schedule pregnancy diagnosis at the appropriate time for accurac. (a minimum of 28-35 days after the last day of mating).
  • Use pregnancy diagnosis to cull all empty cows.


3. Wean as early as possible without compromising the overall calf growth rate: The sooner the calves are weaned the greater the potential turn-off of young cattle. To ensure this you should:

  • Wean calves when pasture use is better for calf alone than cow-calf combination.
  • Use calf age, weight and cow condition score as indicators to earlier weaning.
  • Pasture saved by early weaning needs to be utilised by additional growing stock.
  • Use dedicated yards to wean calves.
  • Positive contact between humans and weaners minimises management problems down the track.
  • High quality feed produces rapid liveweight gains in weaner cattle.
  • Careful management of weaning pays individual and industry dividends.

 4. Implement a female culling and replacement policy to maintain best herd structureCull as early as possible but at a convenient time, commonly at weaning of calves. Initial culling is for females empty at pregnancy diagnosis or that experienced calving difficulties at the previous calving. For a successful retention rate of heifers consider:

  • Calculating the number of replcacement heifers required.
  • Assess the number of heifers retained for breeding in terms of age structure of the herd and long term sustainability.
  • Determine the culling rate.