First-calf heifers or cows that calve late in the season may require extra help to concieve next breeding season. Low body-condition scores and the calf's suckling effect often contribute to this poor reproductive performance.

Julian Bartolome, MV from Gainesville, Fla. has found that early weaning can be a solution to achieve a 12-month calving interval. He suggests weaning calves before they are three months old or around 140 pounds. This will allow cows to gain weight, recover body condition and increase their chances of becoming pregnant.

To wean calves at such a young age they should be kept in a pen for 10 days with concentrate feed (18 percent crude protein calf starter and a small amount of alfalfa hay.) When they are accustomed to feed they can also graze forage.

Mr. Bartolome recommends a special feedbunk to wean calves this early. It helps calves reach feed easily and gets them off to a proper start. A low cost bunk can be built using a half round of plastic pipe (8 inches in diameter) and an iron rod support.