In this article, Jack Frair of CAFRE looks at preparing for weaning and housing.
Before weaning, put all calves on a strict health programme that includes dosing for parasites, especially lungworm and vaccinations for pneumonia.
This should help reduce the risk of calves’ susceptibility to viral pneumonia at weaning if lungs are not parasite damaged.
To further reduce the risk of pneumonia, there are a number of vaccines available on the market to cover the most common viruses and bacteria that cause pneumonia.
Most vaccines require a build-up time to provide protection. Complete programmes in advance of weaning and housing to provide the best possible protection.
This means starting vaccination programmes at least six weeks before the planned weaning or housing date. Seek advice from your vet about the best product for animals that need treatment.
Finishing cattle at grass
Cattle that will be slaughtered off grass should now have been identified and concentrate supplementation introduced and increased, especially for continental cattle.
These should only be cattle that are within 50 to 60 kg of the point of slaughter, approximately six to eight weeks.
Earlier in the summer, cattle could gain 1-1.2 kg/day. But this figure can drop down to 0.75 kg/day during August on grass alone as grass quality starts to deteriorate.
Therefore, supplementation is required to maintain weight gain, and growth and help reach ideal fat covers.
As a rough guide, if grass quality is still adequate, cattle should be fed half-a-kilo of meal per 100 kg of liveweight.
If grass quality is poor or supplies are low, this should be increased to 1kg/100 kg of liveweight.
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