Decisions, decisions – Noldy Rust

I don’t know about all you others out there, it may just be me, but I sense that this has been a reasonably kind calving season?? Please rebuff me if need be, I am always open to criticism and ridicule, what with having 3 daughters ….and a wife!!! At our place at least, things have gone as smoothly as I could have hoped for. Growth has been all over the place as we have had some quite severe cold snaps, as all of you have no doubt, and to top it all off I think it’s been a wetter than usual August. Thankfully most of the rain has been in short bursts, excepting for this first week in September.

As I have been travelling around the countryside I’ve heard feed has been very tight, but most cows seem to be in good condition and there seem to have been fewer cases of metabolic issues and mastitis to deal with this year. This is extremely fortunate as with the cash flow being non-existent this season I shudder to think of what would happen if we needed to keep on spending money we don’t have on animal health and feed.

This environment certainly adds a different dimension to how we look at things. I was certain that milk from the vat for calves was the cheapest option by far with the low payout. However whey based milk replacers are still worth buying, even at $3.85/kg MS. I am only using this for the older calves, but the nutritional info seems to indicate that this feed is all calves need to hit their growth targets. It always hurts when you have to take milk out of the vat whatever the payout, I’m sure you all agree?? The only downside of the whey replacer compared to straight milk powder is that it doesn’t taste anywhere near as nice when I lick my finger and plunge it into the bag to do a taste test……doesn’t seem to bother the calves though!!

NR calf feeding

Calves feeding on whey based milk replacer

Mating is coming up, crikey, doesn’t take long does it? Now, what to do as far as bulls go??

Last year I got onto this scheme through Farmer’s Livestock where you order the bulls you want and then only pay $50 on arrival. Their value is assessed when you get them, and then when they are hooked (once they have served their requirements), you pay the difference. With the schedule being what it is, will it go up by around Christmas time or will it crash. If it does crash, how low will it go?? That is one option, the other is to do a straight lease again, and the third is to carry on with AI for the whole duration of mating. Gotta be onto it with detection in that case though. If I went down that track I think I would use the CRV scratchies all the way through. They work really well and Sam isn’t colour blind as far as I know…The teaser bull will be in the herd anyway so that should help. Hmmmm, decisions, decisions!!

Looking ahead to the rest of the month, tailpainting has been done and we will repeat it when we get to the start of AI, we will run anything that has no paint rubbed off with a couple of recorded bulls. This always works well as it takes care of those “non-cyclers” in the cheapest possible way.

I also need to work out the best way of bringing my grass silage home from a couple of maize blocks. Usually I bale it, but although that’s really convenient it is quite expensive. I am trying to work out the cost advantage in chopping it and either making a stack, or putting it in our bunker which still has about 80 tonnes of maize in it. All this thinking is doing my head in!!

NR silage pit

Will it fit?

It was good to be able to get a one-on-one visit from DairyNZ a few weeks back to chat about maximising grass growth, spring rotation planner etc etc. This was helpful, especially for Sam, as it’s good to hear advice from a different source for a change. Sarah Dirks came out, and making time to look at a few paddocks and have a chat was invaluable. I wonder if many of you have had a visit also? If so, how did it go?

NR spring rotation planner

Spring rotation planner

Calf feeding time now, a couple of new Herefords to teach to drink so I had better go. Is it just me, but why are Herefords so thick?????? Once they are trained they are fine, but sometimes they just don’t get it!! I tried once to get Sam to demonstrate how to suck on the teat but he suddenly had urgent effluent issues to address!

See you next month.

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