We got the calves out here on Good Friday when there were a few decent days of sunshine.

We have kept 32 heifer calves and 12 bull calves to sell as breeding bulls for next year. We will keep the calves on four litres of milk for another few weeks. They had been on six litres in the shed, but I cut them back when they go out because with the mix of grass and meal, there is a lot of protein in the diet.

The oldest calves are just over eight weeks and the youngest we kept are five weeks. The older ones will be on milk longer than they need, but it just makes things much easier to be able to wean them all together outside.

The calves were all dehorned a few weeks ago using anaesthetic at each horn. I find this to be a great job for making dehorning stress-free for the calves, as they do not feel any pain.

We spray alamycin on the horns after to help with the healing and we vaccinated for blackleg too.

We have a small paddock sheep-fenced near the yard that makes letting the calves out an easy job. They are then moved to a bigger paddock that is well sheltered once they get used to the fence.

I got a grass walk done last week and had an average farm cover of 941kg DM/ha and a growth rate of 30kg DM/ha since 10 March. The slurry we got out in January worked really well to keep the grass growing. All our soils are either index 3 or 4 for P, so I plan to go with a bag of 30-0-6 on all paddocks as soon as ground dries up enough.

We have 90% grazed now and have been lucky to be able to allocate approximately 12kg DM grass per cow per day, with 4kg of nuts, all spring.

We have only been putting in four or five grabs of silage every day for them to pick when they come in. We have one paddock left which we are grazing now. It has a cover of 3,300kg DM/ha which will take us up to 8 April. I have been waiting for dry weather to graze this as it is moory ground, but that didn’t really materialise in March.

With any luck, it will be dry this week, but the forecast at the weekend didn’t give me much optimism. I am glad to have this cover to graze rather than having to fill the cows with silage.

We also got the breeding bulls fertility tested this week. They all passed apart from one bull which showed up slightly immature. We will test him again in six weeks. It gives great peace of mind to me and the buyer when the bulls are tested.

The cows will get their BVD booster this week

It is hard to believe breeding is only a few weeks away again. I have found it to be a quick spring.

Another job I must do this week is pick my AI bulls for the upcoming breeding season. I hear I could be too late to get any sexed semen straws for the heifers.

The bulls and heifers at the contract rearer’s have now received their vaccinations for leptospirosis and BVD ahead of the breeding season. The cows will get their BVD booster this week.

A slip-up we realised lately was that we were not vaccinating the cows for leptospirosis. We were only doing them as heifers, and my adviser flagged that maybe it had something to do with my high empty rate. It wasn’t an issue up until a few years ago, when our empty rate started to creep up.

I vaccinated all the cows last week and they will need the second shot in four weeks’ time. Hopefully that will bring our empty rate back to around 10% and, if so, it will have been an easy fix.

Minimal damage

Considering I haven’t even been able to get a look at some of our silage ground for slurry and fertiliser yet, and that Dad hasn’t even thought about putting the plough on, what has come into its own this spring is having all our paddocks with two central water troughs and lots of gaps to roadways. This allowed us to get grass into cows nearly every day with minimal damage.