Farmer Focus Livestock: Jim Dwyer is still preoccupied with calving

We are still busy calving as it has not been as compact as previous years. We put a lot of this down to retained placentas last year and the heifers not responding to prostaglandin at the beginning of the breeding season in 2009.

We seem to have solved the retained placenta problem by giving all pregnant animals a bolus containing copper, selenium, cobalt and iron. We are also putting more emphasis on rearing replacements and getting them to bigger weights at breeding time.

We still have little or no grass growth and although we will not be finished our first round until 15-20 April, the last paddocks on the round have little or no grass on them. We badly need mild weather with good growth rates to lift covers and give us an opportunity to feed cows fully on grass.

Our priority is to graze paddocks tightly to ensure regrowths will be of the highest quality and also stimulate grass growth by removing the dead material left there after the hard winter. We can see the effects of this on the first paddocks we have grazed where the regrowths are of superb quality. Cows are retaining condition and we expect this to be beneficial to them as the lactation progresses.

Calving is not finished and it is time to think about the breeding season. This year we are going to use teams of five bulls each of New Zealand Friesian, Jersey and Kiwi-cross. We think this is the way to go in breeding terms as it retains the heterosis we have gained and the Kiwi-cross bull is another breed in itself.

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