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Kalyeeda

At Kalyeeda we have used the Calfgro pellets for three years with calves that we have weaned down to 80 kgs. We normally heavy wean during the second round although last year we also heavy weaned kgs with the first round as feed was tight and we wanted to look after cow condition.

When the calves are weaned, we train them to Calfgro in the yards for 4-5 days, making hay available. We then put the calves in the cooler paddock for a further 4-5 days by which time the calves all know what the pellet is and are eating. The weaners are then walked to a holding paddock with good feed and we hand feed the pellets. We do not over do the feeding because the aim is to get the rumen working so that the weaner can make better use of the dry paddock feed. We keep an eye on the dung and can see when the rumen is starting to function.

When the weaners reach about 110 kgs, we take the tops off every 7-10 days. This is important as the bigger calves eat more pellets.

In 2014 we fed about 220 light weight weaners from the first round and then another 340 from the second round. We used about 20T of Calfgro in total which I feel is very cost effective.

We will continue to wean heavy where necessary, knowing that the Calfgro pellet gives these calves a good start, before going out onto paddock feed.

Peter Camp – Kalyeeda Station

Dampier Downs

Seasonal conditions in our environment can require radical weaning in order to maintain breeder condition. To care for these calves we have been feeding Calfgro for two seasons now. We feed pellets ad lib along with dry standing feed and it is surprising how little Calfgro is required to set up 90+ kg weaners. Once weaners reach 130kg they are taken off pellets.

The main difficulty we encountered was crows and cockatoos eating the ad lib Calfgro, but this was eliminated by not feeding oaten or sorghum hay while feeding pellets nearby. The most impressive aspect of this program is how well these weaners maintain the condition they gain on Calfgro, even when on comparatively poor pasture.

Anne Marie Huey – Dampier Downs Station

Jubilee Downs

On Jubilee Downs we have predominantly done a single round muster and weaned down to 80 kgs for many years. In 1997, I took 70 Ha and established 12 “Cell” paddocks, each about 6Ha in size. I rotate the weaned calves through the 12 paddocks, which gives good paddock feed for the calves and looks after the pastures. In the centre of the 12 cell paddocks, I have a water trough and a self feeder in which I feed the Calfgro pellets.

Early weaning and feeding on pellets allows me to keep condition on the cow and at the same time, giving the weaner the feed that it needs. I put calves into similar size groups and will keep them on Calfgro pellets until they get to 120-130 kgs. The Cell paddocks are located near a set of yards and we regularly draft off the bigger calves when they reach the size I am after and when I can see that their rumen is functioning. These weaners then go into a paddock by themselves where they continue to go ahead on dry feed. I find that it does not take too long for them to catch up with the bigger animals that were weaned direct off mum.

Depending on the season we will feed 400-500 calves a year and use 30-50T of pellets. Using a self feeder eliminates waste and regular drafting ensure that I only feed the pellets that I need to.I believe that early weaning has many advantages and fits our system well. Although I have been doing it since 1997, I see it as a way of the future for most pastoral properties and would be happy to chat with anyone as to how it works for us.

Keith Anderson – Jubilee Downs

Myroodah

We have used Calfgro pellets at Myroodah Station to feed early weaned and weaker poddy calves since 2011. Most of the pellet feeding happens during the second round as I am happy to heavy wean to look after cow condition. However I will feed Calfgro pellets to weaker calves early in the season if required. Previously we would turned these weaker calves out into the paddock, where they went “cooking for themselves”, hoping that they would improve once on the river country, but so often we noticed that they never did. A few weeks on Calfgro pellets seems to give these weaker calves the start that they need and they can handle the paddock feed better.

We will wean calves as small as 80-90 kgs and feed them on Calfgro and paddock feed (balage if required) until they get to 120-130 kgs. We have them in a paddock close to the yards so that we can regularly take the tops out of the mob. Getting the calves into the yards for a draft is a simple as starting the bobcat and watching the weaners come running.

In 2011 we fed about 700 weaker poddies and smaller weaners, but last year, with better management, we only fed about 300. It makes a real difference to these calves that would otherwise struggle, after all, they are all worth money.

Chris Daniels – Myroodah Station

Yougawalla

We have used Calfgro pellets since 2011 at Bulka and Yougawalla, as part of a strategy to reduce mustering costs and to improve fertility and calving rates. Since then we have only done a single round muster, weaning all calves down to 70-80 kgs. This obviously reduces mustering costs, but to compensate we do need to feed 10-15% of our calves on the Calfgro pellets.

After drafting, any calves in the 70-110 kg range, or other smaller “woody” or “poddy” looking calves are placed onto self feeders and have access to paddock feed. I keep them in a paddock close to the yards, because a key to the feeding is that I must draft off the bigger calves every 10-14 days. Having done it now for four years, I draft on sight, rather than using scales and I take off the calves that have some shine in their coats and have lost the poddy calf gut. I can tell when the rumen has started to work and when this happens, it is time to be weaned. They then go ahead on the paddock feed.

It costs us about $50-60 to feed an average calf and based on current prices, I will feed all calves that need it. I have even fed real small poddy calves on pellets, getting them off milk sooner, because they grow better. In the last four years, our true calving rate has improved 20%. I put this down to a combination of;

  • Doing a single round muster and taking calves off cows before they slip in condition
  • Feeding phosphorous during the wet
  • Feeding the early weaned calves so that replacement heifers
  • get a good start and grow ready for mating. Last year our real calving rate was 72% and the year before it was 73%. It is a great time to have more calves for sale.

     

    Haydn Sale – Yougawalla Station