Look after your replacements

After weaning it is easy to overlook your replacements as they are no longer on the daily radar, but don't make the mistake of out-of-sight being out-of-mind!

Weaners face multiple challenges and the potential impact of them on health and growth are significant. Just relying on casting your eye over them whilst moving them to a new paddock is not enough - daily, or at the least every other day, paddock checks are recommended.

MONITOR WEIGHTS

Weight gain is the most sensitive indicator of health and performance. A reduced gain is a prompt to investigate. If feed has not been limiting then check stock more closely for signs of disease. If there are no overt signs testing can be used to detect the underlying cause before losses are more significant.

CAUSES OF POOR PERFORMANCE

  • Weaners are very sensitive to feed quality and should have access to the best that is available. Move them regularly so they are able to selectively graze the pasture on offer and use other stock classes to clean up the less palatable parts.
  • Parasitism is the most common problem and should not be under estimated. Areas that are used every year for replacements can carry high levels of the infective L3 larvae. Seasonal factors (regular rainfall and mild temperatures) also contribute to a high parasite challenge. Ensure regular monthly drenching using a combination oral product for best results.
  • Don't assume that diarrhoea is always worms. Outbreaks of disease such as Bovine Virus Diarrhoea (BVD), Coccidiosis and Yersinia can occur. Diarrhoea that persists after a drench and poor weight gains may be the only indication that you have a problem.
  • Trace element deficiencies can also affect this age group with similar symptoms and/or be a contributing factor to the problems already described.

Other diseases to be aware of include facial eczema (risk period normally January to April) and polioencephalomalacia (more common over summer months) which causes sporadic cases of nervous symptoms or sudden death.

VACCINATION

Vaccination against Clostridial diseases (to prevent sudden deaths) and Leptospirosis (to help mitigate serious risk to human health) with Ultravac® 7-in-1 is wise and, additionally, also give serious consideration to BVD vaccination.

Contact your vet to discuss the best options for your heifer replacements and ensure you have a solid animal health plan in place for your young stock.