Week beginning 20 April 2002
The spring calves who didn't go to the weaner fair for sale, seven heifers, are all now six months or older and due for weaning as soon as we've had some rain to wash the last of the fertilizer off the grass. I weighed them all on Saturday and they average 267 kg so far, the oldest being Abigail who was born on 11 September. What this means, is that over the last five years, we've added around 90kg to our heifer weaning weights, with which I'm pretty pleased.
On Wednesday evening, we brought a couple of cows out of the autumn mob, with their calves and Iona's boy and took them into the yards. We enabled the orphan calf to get a feed from #32, the old friesian, since she's so quiet and cooperative. We then left them in a small area together for the night, during which the calf decided that Onix was more to his liking and by the morning, he was helping himself to the back of her udder. Since Sapphire (Onix's calf) has been seen frequently helping herself to the udders of other cows, I was prepared to let the calf go with Onix if that worked, so having seen him get a reasonable feed several times during the day, we sent them all back to their paddock, since they needed to get back onto some good feed.
The rest of Thursday, ANZAC day.
After burying Iona, we brought the heifer calves and their mums to the yards for the weaning
process, which basically means weighing everybody (the calves in this case, ridiculously, for the
second time in a week, but the scales were there and it doesn't take much effort), and then
separating them into two mobs. The mothers go off to a paddock with reasonably short grass
(don't want them feeding too well when they need to stop producing milk) and the calves go onto
as much lush feed as we have (even though they tend not to eat much for a day or so). Then
not much sleep is possible for the next two or three nights as they all stand around and shout
about the separation.
By Friday morning, the calf was pretty hungry and no-one wanted to let him feed, although not for want of enthusiasm on his part. After work on Friday afternoon, we brought him back to the yards again for an experiment. One of the just-weaned cows is a cull (going off to the works once weaned) and is in incredibly good condition, in fact, one might say, fat! We are trying to get her to accept this small boy, now that we've taken her large girl away from her. We have no idea whether or not this will work, but it's worth a try. If we don't succeed, then we'll have to try harder to put him onto one of the cows from his mum's mob. The advantage of using the cow who's otherwise going off to the works, is that she's not pregnant, in great shape to carry on milking and taking milk from her doesn't disadvantage another calf.
Since the calf is such an enthusiastic feeder, we put him straight in with the cow, hoping that she might just let him feed. She didn't. So we put her up in the race, where she can't turn around, and let the calf go in from behind her. Thus he had a good feed to go off to sleep on.