Rearing Young Bulls
Any transport that occurs when moving from property to property can be a stressful experience and can cause growth checks. The same occurs when a group of animals are formed and a new hierarchy has to be established at the grazing property. Transportation stress has been shown to increase cortisol levels and increase numbers of neutrophils. When stress occurs, it disrupts the normal functioning of the animal and in cases, can lead to illness. In addition, the energy and minerals needed for stress response are then not available for normal growth needs.
Calves coming on to a property should be weighed as early as practically possible. This gives a base line for further weights through the growing period and also helps identify if there are any smaller animals under 100 kg. If sufficient good quality pasture or silage is available, it may not be necessary to continue supplementary feeding throughout the time animals are on farm. These forages can more than meet the needs of growing animals. Minerals are however often lacking at this time. The dry matter requirements are met from pasture but a deficiency of essential minerals can limit growth rates. These minerals are needed on a daily basis and so should be supplemented daily. These can be provided via the water or from a mineralised molasses block.
In times of drought or other feed shortage, additional pelleted feed is an option to ensure animals keep up to their weight targets. As with all groups of animals, there will be a tail, animals that are not performing as expected. With regular weighing and a targeted growth plan, the tail can be grouped together. This allows for strategic use of additional supplementary feed. These animals can then be put back with the rest of the herd once they have caught up and if necessary, a new tail group formed. A budget should be set to feed 1-2 kg of a transition / weight gain pellet. A diet containing moderate amounts of NDF, starch and protein is ideal; as is one including a vitamin and mineral premix.