Keeping the foot on the pedal so heifers stay on track to calve in at 24 months is essential. That’s why the stage from weaning until first calving needs serious consideration. This stems around implementing an appropriate feeding programme, a farm specific health plan and continuous monitoring.
Our team can provide support at each step and draw on expertise from across the business to advise on appropriate management, from diet balance to mineral selection, wormer choice or handling equipment.
Hitting a target age at first calving of 24 months has the potential to lower feed costs and the carbon footprint of heifer rearing by around 20%, whilst also delivering milk yield benefits.
Weaning is a stressful period so it’s important to make it as smooth as possible. The team can advise on a suitable feeding programme matched to your calves and the forages available on your farm.
We also have a range of specialist products available to help calves at this time. This includes our Ambition compound which includes the speciality feed supplement, OmniGen-AF®. OmniGen-AF® is aimed at supporting natural immune function during expected and unexpected stress events, such as weaning and dehorning.
Youngstock need to be provided with the right minerals to support health, growth and immune function. The Mole Valley Farmers team can advise on the right mineral strategy for your system; whether that’s boluses, a bespoke mineral pack or buckets and blocks.
Keeping track of how heifers are performing post-weaning will pay dividends. Regularly running them over a weigh scales and checking to see if they’re growing at the target 700-800g/day will flag up potential problems so they can be addressed promptly. It may identify individuals who are underperforming or flag up suboptimal growth in the group allowing tweaks to be made to nutrition or disease/parasite management.
Many of the Mole Valley Feed Solutions team are Registered Animal Medicines Advisors (RAMAs), allowing them to prescribe specific wormers and treatments. If not, we have a comprehensive network of trained RAMAs within our local stores and a vet team from Molecare Farm Vets who can provide tips on health planning for your specific farm.
The role of the RAMA continues to evolve, as the animal medicines industry changes. Because of this, all RAMAs are required to take part in Continuous Professional Development, or CPD. This in turn not only equips the RAMA with the latest information on products and how best to use them, but also means they can impart the most up-to-date advice and guidance that fits the individual requirements of each customer.
A RAMA can also advise on testing strategies to help answer key questions – is medicinal treatment needed this time? What is the resistance status of parasites on the farm? Finding out the answers to such questions helps make sure the right medicines are prescribed, helping protect animal health, improving financial outcomes on the farm, and making sure keeping livestock profitably remains possible for the longer term.
In the bigger picture, prescribing the right medicines and treatments can save both time and money by helping prevent diseases before they occur.
If you’re turning cattle out to pasture, a parasite management plan needs to be put in place in discussion with a Registered Animals Medicines Advisor (RAMA) or vet. This strategy needs to look at both internal and external parasites such as flies.
Coccidiosis normally occurs two weeks after weaning because of the stress created at this time. Signs include weight loss, weakness, fever, diarrhoea (often containing blood and/or mucus) and dehydration.
To avoid problems:
If you have a history of coccidiosis on your farm, speak to your vet about prevention.
We are constantly looking at the latest developments in youngstock research and integrating findings into our feeding programmes. We work closely with a number of research institutes around the world to ensure we’re always innovating.
Some of the calf projects we’re involved in include: