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Seasonal Checklist

Following is a check list of activities by month timed for southern farmers

April

  • Have clover samples analysed for P, K & S.
  • Apply autumn fertiliser & lime.
  • Get low producing culls away & all drystock off the milking area.
  • Have liver biopsies done on non-MT culls for Se, Cu & B12 status.
  • Aim for a 45-day rotation by mid April.
  • Keep in-calf stock away from Macrocarpa trimmings to avoid abortions.
  • Continue to teat-spray after every milking.
  • Milk light cows 1X/day (check SSC) but maintain the same feeding levels.
  • Consider a final PT on suspicious cows to avoid wintering empties.
  • Get a quick, hard grazing off new grass (if conditions allow) to aid establishment. 

May

  • Dry off light cows & feed at maintenance for 1 wk before trying to put weight on.
  • Cull empties (if not already done) & get other dry stock off the milking area.
  • Weigh calves & heifers, check against targets.
  • Quantify crop & supplement; then review your winter feed budget.
  • Spray weeds & along fence-lines.
  • Avoid pugging during wet conditions (refer to DairyNZ factsheets)
  • Monitor pasture cover & cow condition for your drying off decision.
  • Use DCT at the last milking according to SAMM Plan recommendations.
  • Thoroughly clean milking plant & structures after the last milking.
  • Winter heifers, early calvers & those to be induced in a separate mob for preferential feeding.

June

  • Check cows weekly for 3wks for mastitis. Using lactational antibiotics on infected cows.
  • Monitor condition of cows, heifers & calves; adusting feeding levels if required.
  • Delouse calves & drench younger cows & calves for internal parasites.
  • Check milking rubberware for signs of perish & replace as necessary.
  • Book a milking machine check with a certified tester.
  • Repair & service teat sprayer, effluent disposal system, tractors, bikes, etc.
  • Disinfect calf pens, get them draught free & ready to go with clean bedding & water supply.
  • Update your cash-flow budget & evaluate your business plans with your banker & accountant.
  • Winter spray ragwort seedlings if required.
  • Take a winter holiday 

July

  • Get pasture covers for each paddock & quantify supplements remaining.
  • Revise your winter feed budget (sufficient for late pregnancy & some growth in ICH)
  • Plan your 1st spring grazing round (sufficient transitional feed & re-introduction to some pasture)
  • Ensure that calf pens, feeders & facilities are ready.
  • Finish general farm maintenance jobs (incl fencing, gates & troughs)
  • Update herd records.
  • Run 1st calvers through the shed a couple of times if possible. Trim tails.
  • Have a break off-farm, if you haven't done so already. Staff too!
  • Draw up staffing roster & organise relief milkers.
  • Check that your resource consent allows for your max number of cows.

August

  • Train new staff & relief milkers prior to calving.
  • Milk young cows that are leaking pre-calving to prevent mastitis.
  • Supplement cows with Mg throughout spring.
  • Tail-paint calved cows & provide Ca for the first 4-5 days post calving.
  • Withhold new milk from the vat for 8 ? 10 milkings & screen with RMT before inclusion.
  • Teat spray after every milking. Use extra emollient in the spring.
  • Provide 2-4 litres of bulk colostrum to calves within 10 hrs.
  • Keep bobbies separate from replacements. Don’t feed antibiotic milk to bobbies!
  • Metricheck cows in batches, 2 weeks after calving
  • Apply N + Eco N once soil temps above 10degC
  • Limit pugging damage

September

  • Monitor grazing residuals daily & pasture covers weekly.
  • Ensure adequate Cu, Co, Se, Zn, I & Mg provided to cows.
  • Disinfect calf pens between batches to prevent disease & organise calf de-budding
  • Hold staff de-brief. What went well & how could calving go more smoothly next time?
  • Continue checking & treating for clinical mastitis. An early response is more effective.
  • Teat spray every quarter after every milking throughout the season.
  • Tidy up the herd; get any empties & dries off. Update herd records.
  • Weigh yearlings, which should be 90% of mature liveweight at 24mths. Delouse if necessary.
  • Continue to metricheck.
  • Ensure that you & your staff are eating properly & are getting sufficient rest!

October

  • Metricure and/or vet check cows that are at risk of fertility issues.
  • Milk light cows & first calvers 1x/day to promote cycling.
  • Separate non-cycling cows for preferential feeding & possible 1X/day milking.
  • Train staff in oestrus detection & check their skills in the paddock.
  • Blood test for Cu, Co, Se, I & Mg status.
  • Get a break (staff too) prior to mating.
  • Identify genuine pasture surpluses for conservation & to retain pasture quality.
  • Wean, drench & vaccinate calves at your target LWTs. Keep feeding meal initially.
  • Begin providing a bloat preventative if necessary.
  • Organise sufficient, fertile bulls for the heifers & herd; lepto & BVD vaccinated
  • Stay on an 18 to 25 day rotation length. 
  • Ensure that cows are on a rising plane of nutrition. Feed quality!

November

  • Check for bulling cows in the paddock 2hrs after each milking.
  • Book silage contractors in for 6 weeks after ‘shutting’ paddocks.
  • Weigh & inject heifers for neospora pre mating. They should be 60% of mature LWT.
  • Treat non-cycling cows at the start of mating; maybe milking them 1x/day.
  • Continue to supplement with Mg. Touch up tail paint.
  • Check daily tanker dockets for reducing milk & protein yields, declining protein percent or elevated fat tests; indicating inadequate feed quality/quantity.
  • Monitor submission rates to AI, which should be 4-5% of the herd daily. Repaint or touch up tail-paint.
  • Get clover-only samples analysed for P, K, S, Mo & Bo. Then get your annual fertiliser on.
  • Continue to be vigilant with mastitis & teat spray effectively after every milking.
  • Get drainage sorted & cultivate crop paddocks if dry enough

December

  • Secure relief milkers for Xmas/New Year.
  • Vet check cows that have not been mated.
  • Maintain pasture quality by harvesting early for supplement. Minimise wasteful topping.
  • Get winter crops & new grass in ASAP.
  • Put bulls out (No. depends on SR's). Must be fertile, Lepto & BVD free. Rest & rotate
  • Weigh & drench calves.
  • Provide a bloat preventative & be vigilant.
  • Keep an eye on filter socks for clots & the BMSSC for spikes. Treat clinical cows & continue to teat spray.
  • Sort out winter feed/grazing. Determine DDT & TB status if grazing off.
  • Plan staff for next season, if appropriate.

January

  • Have a break. Attend a discussion group or demonstration farm day.
  • Re-gravel tanker track, races, trough surrounds & gateways if required.
  • Empty effluent ponds & clean out sumps.
  • Measure silage 6 wks after ensiling.
  • Do an autumm-winter-spring feed budget to determine supplementary feed requirements.
  • Identify culls such as low producers, high SSC & bad temperament cows.
  • PT 6wks from the end of AI to determine cows in calf to AI
  • Start applying N late Jan to help provide a buffer of feed into autumn.
  • Plan to start slowing the rotation length by the end of the month.
  • Remove bulls from the herd by the end of January.
  • Consider a light N. application to promote leaf production after seed-head removal. 
  • Spread effluent onto crop paddocks to increase yield

February

  • Dry off culls & get all dry stock off the milking area.
  • Weigh, drench & delouse calves. Calves should be 40% of mature LWT at 4-5 mths.
  • Weed control
  • Confirm staff for next season.
  • Performance review with staff. Have them identify their training requirements.
  • Finish any autumn regrassing, using N to aid in the establishment.
  • Keep an eye on BMSSC for spikes & identify clinical cows for treatment.
  • Continue to teat spray after every milking.
  • Continue to gradually slow the rotation using longer grass or supplements.
  • Arrange autumn fertiliser & lime applications.

March

  • Finish re-gravelling races, around troughs & gateways.
  • Put light cows in a separate mob with older cows & first calvers for preferential feeding.
  • PT 6 weeks after bull taken out.
  • Continue applying N (eco n) to productive pastures to boost autumn feed.
  • Control weeds & spray fence-lines.
  • Lengthen the rotation towards 40 days.
  • Continue to teat spray, every quarter after every milking.
  • Do a winter feed budget, if not done already.
  • Identify & mitigate farm hazards.
  • Revise cash-flow budgets.