Northland farmer Ken Hames has been elected to the Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) board.
"Getting the most out of these carefully bred young stock starts at birth, so here are some tips to help you and them survive and thrive in the rush of spring":
1. Immunity - Is delivered via colostrum. Make sure they have had 2-3L of first milking colostrum in the first six hours and another 2L in the first 24 hours of life.
2. Top notch process - When and how do you collect the calves? Do you have a system for making sure every calf gets navel sprayed, tagged and fed colostrum?
3. Roster well ahead - Make sure your staff know which days they're rostered on. If you're sole charge, consider hiring casual help occasionally to let you spend time elsewhere if you need to get essential jobs done.
4. Keep on top of bugs - There aren't enough hours in the day to do everything, but make sure you stay on top of calf shed sanitation. Mortality rates can soar quickly in dirty sheds. Talk to your veterinarian about the best products to use.
5. Calf care - For a refresher on the key points, read the Calf Care resource from DairyNZ. Make sure you know how to meet the calves' needs for colostrum, handling, shelter, bedding, and water.
6. The right rearer - Have you got the right rearer for your calves? They need to be reliable, hard-working, caring and observant, and have the willingness to deliver extra TLC when it's needed.
With processes in place, staff trained and the calves in good hands once they're in the shed, calving should go smoothly.