News & Advice

Calves are weaned – Have you got a plan to ensure they grow well?

Oct 7, 2021 | Dairy, Grazing youngstock, Young Stock

Hanneke Officer, Veterinarian, Anexa Vets Gordonton

Doing the best you can for your future replacements starts with AB – selecting those sires that give the calf the best chance at a long and healthy life in the herd. Following birth this continues with many hours of feeding, cleaning, caring, shifting and ensuring calves are happy and healthy and ready to be ruminants.

After weaning, conditions need to be optimised to maximise daily growth rates; with an average growth of 0.6 kg a day, we need to make sure these calves have everything on board to make the most of the nutrition on offer:

  • Free of parasites that interfere with nutrient uptake
  • Optimal use of nutrients due to absence of deficiencies (selenium, B12)
  • All the necessary building blocks for growth (copper, protein, energy)
  • Protection against disease (vaccinations for Clostridial disease (6 in 1), Salmonella, BVD etc)

Whether calves are grazed away or at home, it is easy to get distracted by day-to-day running of the farm. Having a plan in place, with reminders set up, can help overcome this. Jobs can be pre-scheduled and hanging a copy of the plan in the shed where it is easily visible can help make sure that drench is not late or forgotten entirely. This plan can also be very helpful to share with your grazier and discuss expectations regarding care when someone else is looking after your youngstock. 

If regular weighing is part of your youngstock management, the plan will let you know the liveweight targets the calves should be hitting based on adult liveweight for your herd. The plan is laid out as a calendar and is tailored to each individual farm; a typical plan would include the following animal health related jobs, set out in the relevant months:

  • Disbudding 
  • Vaccinations
  • Drenching (including product recommendations)
  • Trace element testing and supplementation
  • Facial eczema prevention (Zinc)
  • Mating – Bull in/out dates
  • Weight targets

If you’re interested in a youngstock plan, please talk to your vet. A discussion around youngstock management specific to you will be the baseline for your customized youngstock plan.

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