Gradual change is a healthy constant to have in any farming operation.

Tweaking the system a little to adapt to economic or health challenges, rather than giving out how tough things are and still doing the same thing. Perhaps some people are more comfortable with old problems than with new solutions.

A few years ago, our calves would be getting their second worm dose of the year around now. With anthelmintic resistance a concern and following the suggestion from the vet, things have changed.

As a result, worm dosing is now a selective task rather than a standard blanket treatment.

Calves in poorer condition or with dung that is a little loose are what I look out for, but the latter has been difficult to judge this year, with so much rain over the summer.

Faecal egg count results taken last week returned, with low readings in the calves and nothing showing up in the samples taken in the older stock, so they won’t need any major yard work for a while yet.

That’s a nice labour saving too, and one less stressful job on man and beast.

Worm dosing

Weather conditions mean I’m more conscious of worm issues this summer, but to date, only a pair of bull calves have required dosing this year. One of those was a possible misdiagnosis on my behalf.

One morning when checking, I noticed him thrown out on the ground a good distance from the other cattle. Bloat was my initial reaction and I thought he was dead.

When I got within a few feet of him, he blinked and, although strained, he got up and slowly made his way back to the group. His stomach looked okay but he was dirty behind, so a decision was made to dose him for worms.

After dosing, I let them into the paddock near the house for 24 hours and kept an eye on his behaviour. He quickly went from being on his own and looking sorry for himself to getting back to grazing with the rest.

Something else caught my eye too. A cow was bulling and there was a bunch of bull calves in tow, including the one I thought was dead a few hours earlier.

The stock bull wasn’t impressed with his assistants and he delivered a good thumping to any would-be jumpers. In hindsight, I reckon the calf was a victim of the bull’s jealousy rather than any parasitic burden.

Lungworm was the issue with the other calf that was treated. He was coughing and lethargic compared to the others in his group. A dose got him back on track.

'Upset' plans and nitrogen

I had hoped to follow through on my plans to not put artificial nitrogen out on the grazing ground this year, but weather upset my plans in that regard.

Ground with low clover content and older grass that was taken out for silage in late May never got the same kick of growth after cutting, as conditions were too dry then. That got some 29-0-14 in early August when the silage ground was getting its last run of nitrogen.

Clover and slurry is keeping everywhere else on track, so hopefully all that will be needed for the rest of the year is a bit of muriate of potash on silage ground with K index of two or lower.