Grazing: The improvement in weather conditions over the last two weeks has meant that stock have been turned out and grazing conditions are good.
If turning out stock for the first time, allow them a while in a closed in area like a crush handling area.
This will allow them settle before being turned out to grass.
Fences can be tested if you allow cattle straight out of the shed to the field and sometimes animals can injure themselves.
Try and set up your paddocks so that animals have two to three days in each division.
Some rain is forecast for the end of this week and if stock are moving into fresh pasture it will be easier to keep them settled.
Hungry animals will do the most damage walking around so try and move regularly.
On some farms with May calving cows, there may be an opportunity to let these out to a paddock near the shed. The exercise will help and will reduce silage feeding and labour. Silage will keep if sealed correctly and who knows, it might be needed in April again or next winter. If conditions deteriorate a lot, don’t be afraid to house again until ground conditions mend again.
Coccidiosis: Coccidiosis generally rears its head in calves from about three weeks of age and is commonly associated with profuse watery brown/green diarrhoea, frequently containing blood. It becomes a problem on some farms with prolonged housing of three- to six-week-old-calves.
In severe cases an affected calf can show continuous signs of straining to pass faeces, with a raised tail. These calves can sometimes pass mucus or gut lining along with faeces.
Once affected, calves can excrete up to a billion oocysts over the course of a full infection leading to the rapid spread of this highly contagious disease.
Infected calves can become stunted in nature, have dry coats and generally never reach their growth potential.
There are a number of products on the market to treat coccidiosis, but they are most efficient when used as preventatives in at-risk calves prior to clinical signs.
Calves on farms where coccidiosis has been diagnosed should be strategically treated with coccidiostats at seven to 10 days of age, and again two weeks later where environmental contamination is high.
Infected calves showing clinical signs should also be removed from the group as soon as possible, and strict hygiene measures employed in relation to feeding utensils and footwear used. Proper power washing and disinfection of calf creeps and sheds with an effective disinfectant is also extremely important. Discuss treatment options with your vet.
Stay focused: With weather conditions improving there is a temptation to stray away from the yard and onto the land to complete field work.
With reduced numbers calving, chances are taken on monitoring cows to get other jobs done. It is often at this time the highest rates of mortality occur due to lack of supervision. On farms with cows left to calve it’s important that calving remains a priority until finished.
A calving camera is a great investment at this time of year when you are away from the yard or at work.