CAT­TLE

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Feature Country Calendar: Winter -

BEEF COWS should be build­ing up body con­di­tion for spring calv­ing, and the main con­cern is to main­tain this and avoid pug­ging wet pad­docks.

It’s only cows with dairy genes that have suck­led more than one calf that may be thin and need pri­or­ity feed. Skinny preg­nant cows have poor calves, are slow to cy­cle and get preg­nant again soon af­ter calv­ing, and will calve later each year.

It takes 180kg of Dry Mat­ter to re­place one con­di­tion score - that’s on top of what the cow needs for main­te­nance - and this can take a month or more to achieve. That is a lot of wet feed to get them into calv­ing at a con­di­tion score of 5 (with rounded hips).

Ma­ture cows don’t need drench­ing for worms. Con­sult your vet if young stock are scour­ing and los­ing weight, some­thing known as ‘ill thrift’ as there are many causes such as min­eral de­fi­cien­cies, sal­monella and yersin­io­sis, and not in­ter­nal par­a­sites, that may be the cause.

Base any de­ci­sions to drench for worms on an FEC, and seek ad­vice on prod­ucts to use. En­dec­to­cides (for in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal par­a­sites) are eas­i­est to ap­ply as pour-ons if you don’t have good cat­tle han­dling fa­cil­i­ties, but they have been shown now to be less ef­fec­tive at killing worms. They are caus­ing more drenchre­sis­tant worms (es­pe­cially Coope­ria species) than oral drenches.

Young cat­tle such as calves and ris­ing year­lings are a spe­cial pri­or­ity, and keep­ing them grow­ing in win­ter is al­ways a chal­lenge. If they stop, they need ex­tra feed and ex­tra time to catch up to reach their tar­get weight for Oc­to­ber mat­ing.

Lice are also a com­mon win­ter prob­lem on young stock that aren’t thriv­ing. Con­sult your vet about suit­able prod­ucts as there’s also de­vel­op­ing re­sis­tance in th­ese chem­i­cal fam­i­lies too.

Fa­cial eczema will be gone, but watch for its long-term af­ter-ef­fects. Long-term zinc treat­ment can strip the cop­per re­serves from the liver, so cop­per sup­ple­men­ta­tion may be needed - check with your vet. The liver can be dam­aged by tox­ins (check this with a GGT en­zyme blood test) which can re­sult in milk fever when stress comes on at calv­ing.

Vets can do min­eral pro­files from a liver biopsy on a live an­i­mal, or ar­range for liver sam­ples to be col­lected at the meat­works if any cull stock are sent off. The liver acts like a bat­tery and needs to be charged with min­er­als over a long pe­riod.

If any stock show sud­den signs of anaemia and be­come weak and stop eat­ing, con­sult your vet to test for the Thei­le­ria par­a­site which has spread rapidly via cat­tle ticks in the North Is­land. In­fected ticks can also be spread by goats, horses, and do­mes­tic pets, and wild rab­bits and hares.

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