Young Stock Advice

Targeting Young Stock Growth

After a busy few months filled with calf-raising tasks, it’s tempting take a breather once the animals reach their first weight targets. But while the calves no longer demand daily attention, they should nevertheless remain front of mind.

For calves born in July and August, the current six-month milestone is particularly relevant because growth rates traditionally tend to slip from there. And given that weight – rather than age – determines an animal's maturity, reproductive performance and therefore future milk production, it’s imperative that the stock gain weight at an appropriate rate.

However, set-backs often occur; as documented in a 2012 LIC study, growth targets begin to slip after six months. By time the calves are 22 months’ old, nearly three-quarters of them are 11% below target weights. The task at hand, therefore, is to manage the factors that trigger growth checks.

“Good monitoring and assessments are essential,” says Wendy Morgan, SealesWinslow Nutrition and Quality Manager. “Regular weigh-ins help chart the progress and highlight any growth issues. It means you can respond promptly and effectively.”

Of course, weight-loss is often stress-related, as can be observed when animals are transported. Stress increases when stock need to establish a new hierarchy at a different grazing property. Their bodies respond with increased cortisol levels, disrupting their metabolism - it basically diverts energy that would otherwise be utilised for growth. The best management response to avoid stress-related weight loss is offering a transition feed such as SealesWinslow’s Weightgainer pellets – a superb nutritional option that’s very convenient to use.

The role of supplementary feed also cannot be overstated when faced with feed shortages arising from summer droughts.

To avoid getting caught out, Wendy suggests pre-empting shortages and extending the available forage as much as possible. “A supplementary feed like Weightgainer is your best option for making the most of existing pasture while helping to maintain liveweight or prevent weight loss.”

It’s a cost-effective measure and it’s specially formulated for the needs of young stock and when extra gains need to be made.

Contact your SealesWinslow representative to discuss how you can achieve good growth rates during this summer and beyond.