NZ Lifestyle Block - - Feature -

Buy­ing calves to rear on milk re­place­ment prod­ucts re­quires a lot of plan­ning, and there are plenty of haz­ards for first-timers.

Don’t buy more than 10 calves to rear for a start, and buy them di­rect from one source. Buy­ing a few at a time from sa­le­yards risks dis­ease, and the high pos­si­bil­ity that if they are from large herds they won’t have had enough colostrum. Don’t buy early calves at silly prices, and wait un­til the spring flush is over.

Don’t do any of the above un­til you’ve done a de­tailed bud­get (in­clud­ing your labour charges) to see if it’s worth­while.

Dairy weaner sales start in Oc­to­ber in the North Is­land, and buy­ing these calves (on a cents/kg liveweight ba­sis) is of­ten a bet­ter op­tion than rear­ing your own if you want to grow them on for beef. But be­ware here too, as there are of­ten large num­bers of poor­lyreared calves at these sales which will be cheap to buy, but very dif­fi­cult for you to grow on.

Only buy wean­ers that have been prop­erly de­horned with a cau­ter­is­ing iron, as de­horn­ing later will add to your costs. Never de­horn calves with caus­tic paste as it can burn the skin. Con­sult your vet about us­ing anaes­thet­ics with the hot iron - this should now be stan­dard prac­tice but is not for many farm­ers.

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