Wednesday, March 5, 2008

It's a Cryin Shame

It's weaning time here at the ranch and we like it to be as stress free as possible for both dams and cria. This year we have a group of six candidates to be weaned. We like to wean them in groups which ease the stress of not having mom for a day. The other idea we have found to be a great help is to put dams in one pasture and cria in a pasture right next to them. This way, they see each other all day and can touch each other through the fence but just can't nurse. All weanlings are checked all through out the day to make sure they are drinking water, eating, pooping and peeing and not climbing on the fence to try and get to mom. Prior to day weaning every morning when I feed I have been separating the dams from the cria to eat. This has been going on for about two months. It gets the cria and the dams used to being separated and give them a routine. Then on day one of weaning I just put the cria in one pasture and dams in the other right after they have eaten. They really don't even realize what is going on. But......sometimes there might be one who paces up and down the fence line. If I see that the cria is not hanging with his buddies or not drinking water and just pacing and crying it might just not be the right time for weaning for this particular cria. We can try again with the cria in a week or two and continue to separate them in the morning when we feed and build up confidence in the cria. But almost always, if you can wean in a group this will not happen. And it seems to go much more smoothly if dams and cria are just a fence line away. We day wean for about a week and then move the cria to their permanent pasture. By this time they have all bonded with each other and don't miss mom one bit.