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Tis the season… for calf rearing

For immediate release

22 May 2017

Tis the season… for calf rearing

It’s the busiest time of the farming year.

Between July and October many dairy farmers will be run off their feet with calving. Up at the crack of dawn (or even earlier), checking cows and not finishing until well after the sun has gone down.

To help prepare their members for another busy season, Dairy Women’s Network are running their annual ‘Successful Calf Rearing’ workshops in the regions from late May through to early July.

Calf rearing is the practice of raising calves for beef or dairy, and the first eight months of its life are the most crucial for getting the best possible start.

In each hands-on workshop, experts from compound ruminant feed manufacturer SealesWinslow and national dairy farmer representative DairyNZ will provide insights, advice and opportunities for discussion on all things calf rearing. The workshops will be in two parts, with SealesWinslow covering nutrition, and DairyNZ covering disbudding, colostrum and care of bobby calves.

Wendy Morgan, a ruminant nutritionist and Nutrition and Quality manager for SealesWinslow, says their part of the workshop will cover general calf rearing practices, but leave plenty of room for discussion and sharing learnings from previous experiences, all with the aim of reducing the stress associated with calf rearing.

“This is a good chance to run through everything before the season starts. We’ll cover off topics such as housing, bedding, calf meal, milk and calf milk replacers, weaning and meeting heifer weight targets,” she says.

“These sessions are excellent for first-timers, but people who have come along before will still get something out of it as we continue to learn more from new research and add to what we offer, and attendees will be able to discuss how to adapt information to meet their needs.”

Morgan says Dairy Women’s Network members are particularly keen for knowledge and new information.

“We usually get a great turnout to these workshops, so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in with everyone,” she says.

DairyNZ’s part of the workshop will cover the management and feeding of good quality colostrum, good disbudding practices and the new regulations for bobby calves.

Colostrum is the early secretion from the cows’ mammary glands after giving birth, and is rich in antibodies for calves. Calves aren’t born with antibodies, so transferring colostrum into the calf early is vital.

“Our colostrum session will provide ideas about how to make sure the colostrum that reaches the calf’s stomach is of high quality and ensure the calf absorbs enough antibodies to protect it until its own immune system matures,” says DairyNZ Husbandry and Welfare Developer Jacqueline McGowan.

“We’ll also explain the different options there are for disbudding and attendees will be able to check whether the system they use is best for their farm and identify options that might work better for them.”

She’s also aiming to dispel any confusion surrounding the new regulations for bobby calves introduced late 2016 and early this year by the Ministry for Primary Industries which affect any farmer transporting young calves off farm.

“The workshop will provide an opportunity to clarify these regulations, and discuss how we can be ready for them come 1 August, including options for loading facilities that won’t break the bank,” she says.

Each workshop starts at 9.30am for registration and finishes at 2.00pm. Male farm workers and calf rearers are also welcome and lunch is provided.

For a full list of venues and to register, visit


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