Updated October 2015
WHAT THEY ARE:
Weaning rings are used for the purpose of preventing a bovine from sucking (sucking on other calves, weaning from mother cow, etc.)
Weaning rings come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and abilities. Most are a type that you insert and tighten down with a screw… But the screw often come loose and fall off! We have had good luck with the plastic weaning rings that are inserted easily (non-permanent) and come out easily. Some have had luck with Quiet Wean style plastic weaning rings, but persistent calves are more likely to find a way to nurse around this style of weaner.
WHO CAN WEAR ONE?
Usually, a weaning ring is applied to a young bovine for the purpose of preventing them from sucking. This sucking can be on other heifers or on cows of any stage of lactation/dry. The particular weaning ring we use fits on small calves all the way up to young cows (persistent suckers!) There are many styles and shapes, so feel free to research which style best fits your needs.
WHY IS SUCKING BAD?
- First, non-milking animals have a natural plug in each teat. Sucking softens the tissue and causes the teat to unplug, allowing in potentially pathogenic bacteria.
- Second, sucking on another heifer’s teats or udder area (also referred to as “udder promise”) can lead to tissue damage or mastitis.
- Tissue damage is often not noticeable, until the heifer calves and becomes a cow. Severe tissue damage creates a “blind quarter” – which is a quarter that creates no milk ever. It usually looks much smaller, because it does not stretch out with milk secreting tissue (hence the name “blind”). Less severe damage may result in odd lumps, reduced production, etc.
- Mastitis will often tend to be noticeable (redness, heat, swelling, hardness) and can occur to bred or unbred, milking or dry animals. If noticed in a non-milking animal, mastitis should still be properly treated and milked out to flush out the infected material.
HOW TO APPLY:
2. Insert on one side of nose, then push toward the other side with the ring as you pull the nose toward you.
3. Wiggle up and down to make sure the ring is in securely
The calf may act a little dizzy after you put on the weaning ring. They seem to stare at it so hard they can fall over! Don’t worry, they will soon figure it out!
They may also not eat much the first day. NOT because they are in pain, but because they are learning how to adapt to eating around the weaning ring.
Are the pokeys on the weaning ring necessary? Other people have tried using the “quiet wean” which is similar to this weaning ring, but with no pokeys. That leaves no deterrent to the sucker or suckee, and they can work around the weaning ring to continue nursing. Some have used them successfully, so there’s no harm in giving it a try and changing to a different style if that one does not work.
HOW LONG TO KEEP THEM IN:
If the calf in with other heifers: you can leave the weaning ring in for a week to a month and then take it out and see how they do. If they start sucking again, you can put the weaning ring back in for a longer period of time. Every animal is different! 🙂
If you are keeping a weaned calf with the mother: you will need to keep the weaning ring in for a long time, maybe until they are a cow! (Note, long term use can cause callouses inside the nose, that will go away over time once the weaner is removed.)
We advocate fence line weaning or separation –
- Putting the newly weaned calf in a pen next to the mother, so they can still see each other but the calf cannot suck. No need for a weaning ring at all in this situation.
- Or, totally removing the calf so they cannot see each other. This method is more effective when separating at birth.