Weaning Calves

Feeding to Effectively Wean Your Calves

Weaning your calves from your cows can be a stressful time period for the cow and especially the calf. The calf’s diet changes dramatically, as do its surroundings. This all creates a high level of stress in the newly weaned calf.

Of key importance in successful weaning is offering a highly palatable, complete nutritional diet that gets the calf off to the right start.

Our two most popular starter lines are Purina Mills’ Preconditioning and Receiving Chow and IMPACT starter. These complete weaned-calf diets help overcome the stresses of weaning, reduce sickness, and put the calf on the road to 40-80 pounds of weight gain.

It is also important to feed your calves a well-balanced mineral supplement. Purina Mills makes it easy by developing many excellent beef mineral products, which are specifically formulated for the mineral deficiencies commonly found in soils and pastures.

Preconditioning and Receiving Chow

Preconditioning/Receiving Chow is "The Standard" by which all starters are measured. Released for marketing in 1968, it is still the number one weaning ration in the United States. Nothing is more palatable to newly weaned or received cattle. Purina’s Preconditioning Receiving Chow has been especially formulated after numerous research trials. It is a complete weaned-calf diet that not only eliminates the stresses of weaning, but also reduces sickness and puts the calf on the road to 40-80 pounds of weight gain.


Preconditioning/Receiving Chow LW

For "Light Weight" calves 250-400 lbs. starting weight 14 - 21

Preconditioning/Receiving Chow

For "Moderate Weight" calves 400-650 lbs. starting weight 14 -21

Receiving Chow

For receiving calves and yearlings weighing 600+ lbs.
5 - 10

What and When Do I Feed?

  • Feed immediately to calves that have been weaned from the cow.
  • Feed Preconditioning/Receiving Chow free-choice to newly weaned calves for a minimum of 14-21 days.
  • Feed free-choice quality hay on day 1 and PRECON up to 1 percent of the calf’s body weight.
  • Day 2 – Feed PRECON a minimum of 14-21 days free-choice as the sole source of nutrition.
  • If using a self-feeder, adjust the feed gate to a two-finger width and ensure that each calf has a minimum of 6-10 inches of self-feeder space per head. Remove fine feed material that has accumulated three times per week.
  • If hand-feeding in a bunk, ensure one foot of bunk space per head, and feed morning and evening, targeting to have a trace of PRECON left in the bunk at the next feeding.
  • When making a ration change, allow 7-10 days for animals to adjust to the new ration.
  • Provide a source of fresh, clean water at all times.
  • Do not allow fine material to accumulate in feeders.
  • Consult your veterinarian about recommended health programs for your local area.

IMPACT Starter

Purina IMPACT starters contain our patented intake modifiers that virtually eliminate the chance that cattle will over-consume the starter. This program provides:

  • An energy-dense formula with reduced roughage.
  • Greater gain and improved efficiency through IM Technology™.
  • A coarse-textured ration that is more durable in handling and resistant to moisture than conventional pelleted rations.
  • A weaned calf ration that provides enhanced ADG and feed efficiency, even better than Preconditioning/Receiving Chow.
  • A ration that provides a smoother, more consistent transition to growing or finishing rations.

Nutrition plays a key role in weaning a calf successfully. If a calf is eating well and taking in a lot of energy, the calf can withstand more stress than with poor nutrition. This is why choosing a weaning ration is key. Purina's Precon/Receiving Chow has been one of the leading weaning rations for many years. It was developed to be fed free choice to calves before and at weaning. Due to its high fiber content it can be the sole ration weaned calves eat at weaning. With a high energy content along with a high fiber content and great palatability, calves intake is exceptional. This ration should be fed free choice to calves for 21 to 25 days. This will get them through the most stressful period and the treat of most viruses.