At the start of 2021 we had 115 cows to calve between January to mid-May. To date we have 79 live calves on the ground. These are all by 5 different stock bulls and 15 AI bulls. This supports our strategy of introducing new genetics into our herd, so that we can supply out-cross genetics for customers looking to set up a new herd of their own. It also means we’re well-placed to supply existing breeders who are looking for stock bulls or herd females to expand their own herds.
The cows generally calve in their group pens which hold 20 cows and we would have 60 cows in each shed. Our 360 degree camera means that we can observe the calvers without disturbing them and only assisting if there seems to be a delay in the birth. In the last trimester, prior to calving, the cows will be on a diet of 40% straw/60% silage (fresh weight) of a protein of 16%. Two weeks before calving, half a kilo of soya per head, helps to ensure the quality of colostrum post calving. Salt based, general purpose mineral licks are also available ad lib. All of which keeps our ladies on a body condition score of 3 – 3.5.
After birth, all calves must get a good stomach full of mum’s colostrum (first milk) to prevent dehydration and build their immune system. This must enter their gut within 6 hours of birth to optimise the absorption of the antibodies to build the calf’s natural immunity. Their navels are dipped with iodine to dry up the umbilical cord to prevent infection.
All calves are ear tagged with their unique 16 digit number and this is used to identify them for their own individual passport, which stays with them for life, by law. To monitor bonding between the cow and calf they are put in a group indoors on a bed of straw. If the weather is kind, they can then be turned outside on the spring grass. The unpredictable weather this year has hampered this routine task, the very cold nights have meant that grass is not growing, and we have kept the cows indoors on silage, until the weather improved.
Today we turned out a large number of our cows with calves onto our permanent pasture fields at Stanford Park. All cows are able to walk out into their pastures without being loaded into trailers. It’s a wonderful sight to see the new calves bouncing on the green lush grass.