NZ Lifestyle Block - - Feature -

SPRING IS nor­mally calv­ing time, but on small blocks calves can ar­rive all year round if you own a bull. Al­ways have calv­ing gear ready, along with your vet’s con­tact num­ber.

Early vet­eri­nary as­sis­tance is re­quired if there’s no progress 30 min­utes af­ter a calf’s feet are show­ing. Vets don’t like be­ing called hours af­ter will­ing helpers have failed - call early.

Cows suck­ling more than one calf pro­duce a lot of milk and need ex­tra feed, in­clud­ing con­cen­trate sup­ple­ments, es­pe­cially if you want to get them back in calf within the nor­mal sea­son. Check their teats for dam­age from calves’ teeth, and watch for swollen, red and hot quar­ters not be­ing suck­led, as it could be mas­ti­tis. Suck­led calves should be grow­ing well, in ex­cess of 1kg/day.

Bull calves need to be cas­trated with rub­ber rings be­fore six weeks of age. The mar­ket for weaner bulls is usu­ally bet­ter than steers, but don’t run bulls for beef on a small block as even young wean­ers to ris­ing year­ling bulls will get cows (and their fe­male calves) preg­nant, de­spite their small size.

Once the grass is grow­ing well, dairy wean­ers should gain at least 1kg/day with­out meal. Meal is costly so should only be fed if needed. If young stock are not thriv­ing, con­tact your vet­eri­nar­ian. If young stock are scour­ing, talk to your vet be­fore buy­ing drench (oral or pouron), as the prob­lem may not be worms. Also check what vac­ci­na­tions calves will need, eg, black­leg and pos­si­bly lepto.

Bull sales start in Oc­to­ber in the North Is­land so sort out what you may need for the herd. Con­sider leas­ing be­fore buy­ing, as bulls on small blocks are al­ways a haz­ard. Any breed­ing bull needs a yearly vet check be­fore go­ing out into the herd.

Ar­ti­fi­cial in­sem­i­na­tion is an op­tion, but if you go through your vet it can be ex­pen­sive as it may in­volve hor­mone treat­ment and vis­its to get cows to cy­cle be­fore in­sem­i­na­tion on a spe­cific date. If you use an AI con­trac­tor, you’ll have to be good at heat de­tec­tion to know when is the best time to in­sem­i­nate. Get ad­vice from your AI sup­plier (or cat­tle farm­ing neigh­bour) be­fore mat­ing starts.

Do not drench ma­ture cat­tle for worms, de­spite what the ad­verts and prod­uct pro­mo­tions say. Avoid us­ing pour-ons on young stock as a rou­tine in the as­sump­tion that they need reg­u­lar worm treat­ment, as this is now the ma­jor cause of the in­creas­ing drench re­sis­tance in cat­tle, as with sheep.

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