Grass: The long-range forecast is for a continued spell of dry weather, which will be welcomed by all.
Those with a high proportion of the farm grazed (+60%) will be watching temperatures as much as rainfall as they count down the days to the second rotation and hope for high growth rates on the first-grazed paddocks. It is set to get a bit cooler into next week, which could dampen down growth rates slightly.
The priority task is to get as many stock out grazing now as quickly as possible. Land will dry fast in this weather.
Remove silage from the diet of milking cows and let them eat as much grass as possible.
For those that are behind target (less than 50% of the farm grazed) I’d continue to focus on the lowest covers available and get through as much area as possible.
High covers will start to deteriorate in quality from now on, but if you are behind in target area grazed then the best thing to do is to leave the high covers as you will more than likely have to skip over some paddocks in the first rotation for silage and these would be the ideal ones to take out.
Calves: Some farmers are still experiencing cases of bloat in young calves. It seems to be mostly related to milk replacer but can happen when whole milk is fed also. As previously mentioned, it’s more than likely caused by a bacteria that feeds on the milk in the abomasum, producing gas that gets trapped and that is what causes the bloat. Good hygiene and ensuring correct mixing and feeding rates seem to be factors but some people are blaming milk replacer.
It is definitely more of a risk with milk replacer compared to whole milk, and particularly so if some lower-value ingredients are included in the milk replacer as these are slower to digest and so the bacteria have more to feed on.
Farmers who are experiencing problems should speak with their milk replacer provider and vet. The calf-rearing protocol needs to be audited and in most cases small changes or tweaks can solve the problem.
With the fine weather, it’s a good idea to let out calves to grass, particularly if sheds are getting full. At this stage the oldest calves will be six weeks of age or so and should be eating plenty of solid feeds.
Start reducing milk feeding rates if they are not eating enough solids. They should be pushing towards eating 1kg of meal per day prior to weaning. Fresh meal is essential to get good intakes. Feed meal daily and remove leftover meal. Fresh, clean water is also critical.
Animal health: Late-calving cows in herds that are vaccinated for scour will need to get their scour vaccine now, if not already given. Yearlings will need a booster shot of the blackleg vaccine before going to grass and calves will need two shots of the blackleg vaccine around one month apart.
Farmers who have had experiences of coccidiosis or pneumonia in young calves before or after weaning should speak to their vet about preventative measures. Coccidiosis is a nasty disease that can leave otherwise healthy calves stricken. Hygiene is a key preventative measure, particularly around water troughs and feed troughs.