Calf Rearing

It costs nearly $1,400 to rear a heifer calf to enter the milking herd, and poor calves generally make poor heifers and then poor cows.

Getting it right
There are consistent messages for calf rearing:

Colostrum intake is critical as 2L of first milking colostrum within 24 hours will immediately deal with many potential problems;
You need a good supply of fresh water in the calf sheds at all times;
Hygiene is an important part of keeping calf sheds a safe place for calves to grow; use a santitiser when the sheds are occupied, and one that covers as many bugs as possible (e.g. VetsanĀ®)
Calves need access to a grain based meal/supplement asap for rumen development - Without good rumen development the wheels can fall off at weaning;
Shelter - Good shelter in paddocks is essential for turned out calves.

Calf scours
Sick or scouring calves need special care

Do not withdraw milk feeds - No electrolyte or supplement supplies more energy than milk, and withdrawing milk can mean nutritional scours when it is restarted;
Aim to increase fluid intake to replace fluid lost - this means at least 6L in the calf per day
Use a high quality electrolyte - not all are created equal
Get hold of and learn to use a tube drencher - these are calf savers and can save considerable time for calf rearers.

Growth and Health
Calves need good nutrition and protection from preventable disease to meet their full potential.

R2 heifers at mating should be at least 60% of their expected mature weight.

A wide age range in heifer replacements immediately creates a problem - aim for a compact AI period for generating replacement heifers
Weigh heifers regularly. Recent studies show a large proportion of heifers are not at puberty at mating in many NZ herds - this is because they are poorly grown.
Products such as Minda makes setting targets for individuals easy.
They should never be treated as second rate animals, but should remain a priority.

The success of Leptospirosis control for a whole herd is closely linked to the completeness and timing of the R1 vaccinations
Often replacment heifers are not checked regularly, or are tasked with 'cleaning up' paddocks rather than being offered high quality feed in good amounts
These younger animals have no resistance to parasites, and are very vulnerable. A regular drenching programme should be in place
Should animlas not respond as expected to a drench, please call us. Viral infections (e.g. BVD), Bacterial infections (e.g. Yersinia), trace element deficencies (e.g. Copper) or Cocccidia can cause significant problems in young growing stock and the signs of these infections often mimic the signs of worms.