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Calving Season 2014

Wednesday, 30 July 2014 at 1:01pm

It's that time of year again, calving is well underway and cows have been dried off for the season. Federated Farmers Waikato Chairman Craig Littin sums up this time of year in the Waikato Times:

Between the wet months of July and October, dairy farmers are in calving season and cows have been dried off, having not produced milk for at least the last six weeks. To keep cows in top condition during this time ready to have their calves and produce milk for the coming season, it involves techniques such as break feeding, splitting herds and supplement feeding.

In these wet months pasture is sparse, and to keep cows in good condition while they are dried off and begin calving, they are fed between 8 to 10 kilograms of feed, some of which is made up of supplements like maize silage, palm kernel, hay or silage.

This feed allows the cows to gain condition and also rations the pasture reserves on-farm to ensure that the farm has enough for when they are in- calf when their feed requirements rise to between 18 to 20 kilograms per animal a day... The balancing around animal feeding is carefully managed and monitored.

Break feeding is an important part of this, ensuring the balance is met between the animal's feed needs, ensuring viable pastures for calving season so there is enough feed/pasture in the coming season. Farmers also use feed budgets to assist them in managing this carefully, until the balance date when pasture growth exceeds animal feed demand, and usually split their herds further, say from two to five herds, to help achieve this.

So far all farms have experienced excellent pasture growth and favourable temperatures for the calving season.

Source: Waikato Times