News & Advice

Monitoring young stock performance makes a huge difference to their progress

Oct 21, 2015 | Dairy, Young Stock

Mike Shallcrass, Anexa Gordonton Veterinarian 

All too often we hear that farmers aren’t happy with their heifers when they come back from grazing, and they solve the problem by changing to a new grazier. The next year the same thing happens and the cycle repeats.

Calves are the future of your herd and any setback to their development can have serious repercussions to their health and production once they come into the milking herd. Spending just a few hours a month monitoring your young stock’s performance can make a huge difference to their progress and set them up nicely to come into the herd.

Many graziers have started weighing stock and sending those weights through to the stock’s owner. This is a great start, but what should you do with those weights and what do they mean?

An average cross-bred heifer should weigh around 150 kg at 6 months of age and 300 kg at 15 months. These are minimum targets and ideally all your stock should be exceeding them.

The new website has powerful tools to monitor the weight of your young stock and compare their weight against their own individual BW values. It also automatically generates lists of stock that need help to meet targets and how far behind they are.

You can see from this graph (fig.1) that while these animals were initially meeting targets they have fallen far behind and at their last weighing were an average of 35 kg below target. This could have repercussions on when they start puberty and, therefore, when they get in calf.

Anexa FVC offers a tailored management program for your young stock, so that you know when vaccinations and drenching are due, and what animals should weigh at a particular time. If required, we can administer treatments and weigh stock and report back to you on their condition. You then have peace of mind knowing the animal health treatments are up to date and improves overall communication about whether animals are meeting targets, or not.

The graph (Fig.2) shows a mob of animals that were failing to meet targets, however because the farmer was aware of this, he/she was able to work with the grazier to bring them back to target weights in time for mating.

This next graph (Fig.3) is from a farmer who has been using our Young Stock Monitoring program for the past two seasons. Both he and the grazier have become more engaged with the management and improvement of the calves’ performance, and this has been reflected in their outstanding growth rate performance.

These animals are all well above target – it is going to be interesting to see how they perform once they come into the herd next season.

If your grazier is already sending you weights, we recommend you enter them into MINDA, so that you can objectively assess how things are going. If your grazier isn’t weighing your calves, ask them why not; it may be that no-one has asked them to before. If they don’t have the facilities, then we can take out portable scales and weigh them for you.

Poorly grown heifers are less likely to get in calf, have lower production, and are more likely to be culled than animals that are well grown. By the time these animals come back to the farm it is too late to do anything about it. Accurate, regular monitoring and early intervention are needed to ensure your animals reach their potential.

Call your Anexa FVC clinic today to discuss the young stock monitoring options that we can offer you.

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