Five months ago we had a friendly call from our local Agritrade rep Shannon Patterson wanting to know if we were interested in taking part in a mineral trial in our young stock, knowing that we should be doing more monitoring and trying to grow our young stock better we decided to give it a go.
So for starters the calves were divided into 3 random groups. Group 1 was the control, Group 2 was given a long acting selenium jab and Group 3 was given a mineral bolus containing cobalt, selenium and iodine. All the calves were weighed and an equal portion of each group had a blue button tag put in and bloods taken – these same calves will have bloods taken every month throughout the trial.
So far the trial is going well. It is too early to give definite results but there is a slight trend towards Group 3 being the best option. We have also noticed that Group 2 (that was given the long acting Se jab) are a lot less settled when handled in the yards (read as mad as maggots), so however the trial turns out we will not ever be using that again.
The other upside of doing this trial is that every month we are weighing and monitoring the calves better than we have in the past….. the downside is we need to lift our weight gain performances.
Given what we now know we have decided that after the trial is over we are going to keep weighing our young stock, and also are looking at adding weight gain bonuses into our heifer grazing contract. As for the trial I will post all the results up here when the trial is finished, so watch this space!
In one of my previous blogs I talked about planting fescue and clover as a new option for us to combat the dry summers, so to date we have planted 10ha of fescue clover mix. Early next week we are getting the weeds sprayed out of it and won’t be far off its first grazing, so far so good. The other thing that I have done is plant a paddock of rye clover mix so we have something to compare it to, so will have to keep you updated on this to.
So currently we are still milking 100 cows and are doing 1.2kgMS/cow and have/ will be slowly drying cows off according to calving date. We have been taking part in DairyNZ’s free body condition scoring, and the cows are currently sitting at an average of 4.7, so not too much work is required to get them up to calving condition. We still plan on milking the empties and lates right through as we need the cash flow.