Sunday, April 2, 2017


Autumn - my favourite time of the year.   Cool mornings and evenings, summery days and the changing of the colours in the garden.   This year we are having a true Autumn for a change made all the nicer with the drought having broken and the grass growing.   We are still having to feed out hay, though, as there isn't quite enough substance in the grass as yet but the stock are doing well.

We don't wean either our big or small Hereford calves until they are around eight months of age and then only if there is good pasture ahead of them.   All their vaccinations were completed by the time they were three months old but some breeders prefer to wait until weaning time.   If you do, then this is the time to get them done so that the calves have good protection once they have left their mothers.   In the past we have used the 5-in-1 vaccine but having lost two or three calves this season for no apparent reason we are going to try the 10-in-1 vaccine next season and see if that improves matters.

When my calves are weaned they have meal and chaffage products available along with molasses and mineral blocks.   There are many choices a breeder can make which are available from stock firms but check what ingredients are in them.   They also get hay as the new grass growth tends to make them a bit runny at the rear end!   We drench our calves a couple of weeks after weaning them to prevent worm build-up plus deal with some external parasites.   Lice are present at all times of the year but they tend to prefer the thicker coats the animals are building up for winter.

These cooler months are well suited to undertake
any de-horning or castrations if they weren't done when the calves were muchyounger.   Remember, though, that shelter mustbe available in case rain comes unexpectedly.
The calves can either have a local anaesthetic in
the horn area or be completely anaesthetised.   The
horn has to be completely removed and this should
involve removing the hair in a circle around them -
sometimes called the 'ring of confidence' except
toothpaste is not being used!   Failure to do this
can result in the horn re-growing often in a very
deformed condition which is both unsightly and
Providing there is good pasture ahead of them supplementary feeding can be gradually phased out leading up to Winter with the weaners going into the colder months in good condition and not likely to lose weight.   Make sure tails are trimmed with any dags cleared away and ears can also be trimmed so that their tags can be easily read in the paddock.