Vet Claire dives into your FAQs around feed to ensure the health of your herd.
Grazier Agreements and Weighing Plans
Sadly, our involvement with youngstock is often when they are not doing so well. In many of these situations, it is unclear who is responsible for the animal health requirements. Ideally, at the start of every grazing relationship, a clear agreement of both animal health treatments and expectations of growth rates would be drawn up.
- Records of their weights on arrival and subsequent weigh-ins would be kept.
- Minimum of 3 monthly weigh-ins. Get someone else in to weigh them if you can’t get there (Weigh It Up).
- Record all animal health treatments given.
- Consider the long-acting drench capsule and trace element options for less than optimal yards or hard to get to locations.
- Set target growth rates and goal weights for specific times of the year.
Feed and BCS
- Heifers from weaning to calving need approx 4.5 tonnes of feed each. (And more if they get 2x horrendous winters).
- Controlled feeding is preferred over ad-lib feeding. Daily shifts decrease the competition in the group; they provide regular fresh feed; there is minimal wastage; they will get a balanced cross section of feed daily; and any health issues can be detected early.
- Quality is just as important as quantity. Too often only the quantity of food is focused on, but young growing animals need well-balanced diets to maintain healthy rumens to enable them to hit growth rate targets. E.g fibre, protein and carbohydrates. This is particularly relevant for winter feed. Consider taking feed samples and getting them analysed to find out ‘what’ the heifers are being fed, not just ‘how much’.
- Avoid ‘overweight’ heifers – body condition or weights can be used to ensure heifers don’t get too fat. In the same studies quoted above, they found that if heifers exceed their target their repro performance and survivability will start to decrease.
Want to read more about Heifer Health and Parasite Management, Vaccinations and Trace Elements? Read more here.
- Clair Hunter