September 3, 2008

Cattle health calendar

Cow before calving
• Keep the cow on good quality feed before calving as her appetite will drop.
• Ensure the calf is not injured during delivery.

Calf at birth
• Put iodine on fresh navels and where it joins the abdomen.
• A calf must have a minimum of 2 litres of its dam’s colostrum before 6 hours old.
• In cold wet conditions, make sure the calf is placed in a dry sheltered area.
• If the cow is left on the cow, make sure it has found the teats and has suckled properly.

Calf from 3-6 weeks old
• Check calves are achieving growth targets. If not alter feeding regime.
• Feeding regime should encourage early rumen development.
• Keep a regular watch for digestive upsets and scouring. Act quickly when seen.
• Check calves sucking cows for excess milk intake and scouring.
• Dehorn with cauterising iron using an anaesthetic.
• Castrate males with rubber rings.

Calves from 12-14 weeks
• Wean calves based on target weight and not age.
• Make sure they are eating a minimum of 1kg of meal/head/day before weaning.
• Weaned calves must graze clean pastures, supplemented with meal and good quality hay.
• Drench based on Faecal Egg Count (FEC).

Post-weaning to yearlings
• Maintain feeding levels to achieve target weights.
• Drench based on Faecal Egg Count (FEC).
• Vaccinate for blackleg.
• Vaccinate for leptospirosis. Two injections are needed a month apart.
• Wean multiple-suckled calves on basis of target weights.
• Wean single-suckled calves around six months of age in Autumn.

• Mate if they have reached their target weights.
• Mate (AI or bull) three weeks before the main herd.
• Maintain good feeding levels to continue achieving target weights.

Older cattle – annual jobs

FE and Lepto
• Maintain Facial Eczema (FE) prevention from January to May.
• Give annual booster vaccination for leptospirosis.


• Check cows regularly for mastitis coming up to calving.
• Check heifers before calving for mastitis.
• Watch for excess udder distension before calving and dripping milk (mastitis risk).

• Prevent feet problems by moving stock quietly, and having good races to walk on.
• High protein feed will make feed problems worse – balance up excess protein intake with more carbohydrate and fibre (maize silage and hay).
• Avoid pugging paddocks so stock have to graze and walk in mud.

• Make sure all cows calve at Condition Score (CS) 5 and heifers at CS 5.5.
• Dry off cows or wean suckling calves to allow time to achieve these minimal targets.
• Feed cow well after calving, especially during the first 6-8 weeks when she is in negative nutritional balance and has to both milk and come on heat.

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