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Calfgro® – A Product for All Pastoral Cattle

Pellets delivered to any station are not cheap, however if the right product is used in the correct way, this could be the year to try pellets.

Calfgro® is a product that dairy farmers use to feed to calves from birth to 120 kgs. It is also fed to high producing cows during summer when a high energy and high protein supplement is required. It is a product that is ideal for early weaned calves, but it would also act as an excellent supplement to older cattle that are either grazing what pastures are available or being fed the likes of Rhodes grass, or sorghum hay.

Calfgro® has an estimated ME (metaboliseable energy) content of 13 MJ/Kg DM, which is about as much energy that can be packed into a pellet. The crude protein content is a minimum of 21% and it has a minimum of 10% canola meal, an important by-pass protein which assists rumen bacteria to utilise dry feed. This year the price of canola meal is similar to lupins, the other protein source, resulting in the canola meal content being increased to approximately 20%. Calfgro®, with its high energy and high by-pass protein content, will be an ideal product for supplementing all classes of cattle, especially when feed is in short supply.

 

Growing Last Year’s Weaners

With the demand for feeder and grazing cattle in the south likely to continue to be strong, you might have a draft of last year’s weaners that are in the 230-260 Kg range that could be turned into saleable animals if they had a little more weight on them. Feeding 2-4 kgs/head/day of Calfgro®, in conjunction with paddock feed or hay will keep these weaners moving forward and ready for a market. Controlling a daily intake of Calfgro®, requires a trough and daily or alternate daily feeding. If this is not practical to do this, you can feed adlib, but you must keep a close eye on the weaners as they will put weight on quickly. As they get bigger they eat more pellets. It would be important to draft the tops out of the mob at least once a week to ensure that pellets are not being fed to animals that have reached a target weight. Calfgro, could be fed in tempory paddock self feeders such as plastic troughs, cut down plastic palecons, or even straight from a bulka bag located in a earth moving tyre. It is critical that the weaners have access to roughage.

Early Weaning

If good rains do not happen in the near future, early weaning down to 70-80 kgs will occur on many stations as a way of trying to hold cow condition. Over the last three years a growing number of stations have used Calfgro® to successfully feed early weaned calves. Getting calves onto a safe grain based ration as soon as possible will help rumen development, allowing the calf to make better use of dry paddock feed. The high canola meal, by-pass protein content of Calfgro® really does help these small or “woody” calves to turn around and be able to make use of whatever dry feed may be available.

Here are some comments from a couple of stations who have used Calfgro® to look after early weaned calves.

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

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