NZ Lifestyle Block - - FEATURE -

THE MAIN con­cern in au­tumn, es­pe­cially if it fol­lows a dry sum­mer, is to keep young stock (calves and year­lings) grow­ing to reach their tar­get weights. Stunted stock will never catch up un­less you pay a lot of money for ex­tra feed and give them ex­tra time. Even so, it will have se­ri­ous ef­fects on their life­time pro­duc­tion ca­pa­bil­ity.

In spring cat­tle should grow at 1kg/ head/day – a good au­tumn tar­get is half that. But af­ter a long dry pe­riod when they have only main­tained their weight or even lost weight, it will be dif­fi­cult to get them grow­ing again with­out good silage to sup­ple­ment the au­tumn pas­ture. Bor­row scales from the lo­cal vet clinic to check weights, as girth tape mea­sures are not very re­li­able.

It takes 280kg of Dry Mat­ter to re­place one con­di­tion score on a cow, above its daily main­te­nance re­quire­ment – that’s a lot of feed each day and if you don’t have it on the farm, you’ll face the cost of buy­ing feed in or quit­ting stock.

Cows at calv­ing should be Body Con­di­tion Score (BCS) 5, which is when they have fully rounded hips – check this with the palm of your hand – vs the more an­gled hips in an an­i­mal that’s thin­ner.

Young stock of­ten scour badly in au­tumn, es­pe­cially on fresh green pas­ture. They then lose weight fast and de­velop what’s called ‘au­tumn ill thrift’ which can have many causes with in­ter­nal par­a­sites – lice are top of the list. But there are a host of other rea­sons and your vet­eri­nar­ian will need to do blood tests to sort things out. Sal­mo­nella and yersin­io­sis are pos­si­ble causes, as is feed qual­ity.

In­ter­nal par­a­sites in cat­tle have be­come more re­sis­tant to the main chem­i­cal fam­i­lies due to the overuse of pour-on chem­i­cals (en­dec­to­cides), which are easy to use com­pared to oral drench­ing. There is wide­spread re­sis­tance to Coope­ria par­a­sites in cat­tle. Fae­cal egg counts need to be used to help ac­cu­rate di­ag­no­sis and what prod­uct to use.

Bit­ing/blood-suck­ing lice can also

be a hazard for young stock and will stop them thriv­ing; their num­bers will be worse on calves in poor con­di­tion. Check for them on the shoul­ders and around the tail. A se­vere at­tack can kill calves so get vet ad­vice about the best treat­ment, again to pre­vent re­sis­tance to chem­i­cals de­vel­op­ing.

Cat­tle of all ages on au­tumn pas­ture need fi­bre to im­prove di­ges­tion, so good qual­ity silage or hay should be fed, mak­ing sure they are not wast­ing it or pug­ging the pad­dock near feed­ers when soils are wet.

Build a stand­off area, but en­sure it meets lo­cal coun­cil reg­u­la­tions, and is not a source of ef­flu­ent es­cape into wa­ter­ways. Don’t stand cat­tle on con­crete or hard sur­faces for more than a day, and pro­vide dry ar­eas for them to lie down on.

Don’t stop FE pre­ven­tion be­cause the nights are cool­ing off. With fre­quent rises in spore counts over the sea­son, an­i­mals will be highly sen­si­tised to the toxin and it takes very lit­tle to cause more liver dam­age. Watch for rye­grass stag­gers too in cat­tle (and horses) which is another au­tumn fun­gal toxin caused by spores that grow on dead rye­grass seed heads.

Every­one is try­ing to keep cool dur­ing the heat of sum­mer, and for us this means fresh salad meals fol­lowed by ice cream or ice blocks. I’m a cup of tea per­son and pre­fer that bev­er­age to any­thing else, but oc­ca­sion­ally I en­joy an ice block. Even our Jack Russell ter­rier Tessa loves them so I make a few es­pe­cially for her and doggy vis­i­tors which is a great way to keep them happy.

Ice blocks are re­ally easy to make and can in­clude fruit, juices, milk, or yo­ghurt which is de­li­cious and healthy too.

Even vegetable juice can make a re­fresh­ing icy cold block. It is sur­pris­ingly easy to get chil­dren to eat fruit and veg­eta­bles they oth­er­wise re­ject by sim­ply freez­ing the in­gre­di­ents in ice blocks.

Ice blocks can be made in the old fash­ioned way with a wooden stick frozen into the block or in spe­cially de­signed plas­tic trays with wands that freeze into the mix­ture. There are even ice block mak­ers just like ice cream churns, and slushy mak­ers too.

The prob­lem is, ev­ery sum­mer I find that some of the plas­tic bits are miss­ing from my moulds. I try to be or­gan­ised but some must go out with the rub­bish or get hid­den in that mag­i­cal place you’ll find in most kitchens where plas­tic bits go to ex­pire. I usu­ally end up with wooden ice block sticks (bought by the packet from the su­per­mar­ket) and small pa­per cups as moulds. At least these are dis­pos­able and you can make large or small ice blocks.

If you are lucky enough to have the re­ally old ice cube trays that hold a lot of juice, fill the whole tray and place a wooden stick in each cube. The kids don’t care how they are shaped as long as they are cold and tasty. The smaller size is eas­ier for young chil­dren to hold too.

If you don’t have home-made yo­ghurt, use one of the large con­tain­ers of com­mer­cial yo­ghurt, although it will make the ice blocks quite ex­pen­sive. Look out for yo­ghurt marked down in your su­per­mar­ket be­cause it’s close to its ex­piry date and you can save some money.

Another op­tion is to buy a packet yo­ghurt mix, cul­ture it and make your frozen blocks from the thick liq­uid. method Pour the yo­ghurt into a deep bowl or jug with a pour­ing lip or a food pro­ces­sor. Cut up the straw­ber­ries – I use six or so, but you can use as many as you like – then mash or blitz into the yo­ghurt. Add the ic­ing sugar if your yo­ghurt is re­ally sour and mix or blitz again. Pour your mix­ture into a dozen ice block moulds. You will find lots of straw­berry seeds at the bot­tom of the bowl – dis­card these. Freeze your blocks overnight. They will keep for a cou­ple of months in the freezer if you hide them, oth­er­wise a few days.

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