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The primary mission of a beef brood cow is to consistently produce calves. There are numerous management practices designed to assist cows in accomplishing this mission. Young cows frequently require more management attention to be reproductively successful than do older, mature cows.
In recent years attention has been focused on altering time of weaning to manipulate cow body condition as a method of maintaining high reproductive rates while also reducing winter feed requirements. If cows nurse their calves for a longer or shorter period of time than is traditional, a corresponding decrease or increase in body condition may result due to the nutrients required for maintaining lactation. Changing either the calving date, the weaning date, or both will likely have an influence on cow condition. Age of the calf at weaning is affected by both the date of birth and the date of weaning. Consequently, a change in weaning age will impact weaning weight, therefore any change in time of weaning must balance the potential positive impacts on the cows with potential negative impacts on the calves or calf market weight.