News & Advice

Early summer is the make-or-break time for poor-doing dairy grazing calves

Feb 5, 2019 | Dry stock, Dry stock animal health & welfare

Don’t wait until the autumn to worry about poor-doing grazing calves! These calves can be helped now, by doing zinc bolusing and individual weights.

It’s not too late to talk to the owner of your grazing calves about facial eczema. Remember the rule of thumb- if you see one calf with obvious skin problems from facial eczema, then 20 more calves are affected with underlying liver damage. Don’t let facial eczema ruin all of the hard work you’ve put into these calves. Don’t let the owner blame you for not feeding them enough over the summer, when it was actually the fault of facial eczema! Zinc in the water is never enough for calves (they don’t drink enough). Ensure you bolus them, and if you’re only going to bolus them once use the zinc bolus that lasts 6 weeks instead of the one that lasts 4 weeks.

Weigh the calves! It is surprisingly difficult to pick out the calves that aren’t meeting target. Talk to the owner, and decide how you are going to handle poor doing calves. Ideally they get a separate paddock with your best pasture and perhaps meal or PKE. Do you pick out the bottom 10%? 15%? Who buys the meal? Adding a bit of extra TLC to the poor-doers early on is a much better idea than trying to decide what to do with them in May!

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