THINKING OF REARING A GROUP OF CALVES?
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.