“We are passionate about our cows and breeding of bulls and heifers, says Freya.
“Our whole-farm system approach helps the operation run as smoothly as possible.”
Being prepared is essential for the couple, who sit down pre-season and write a checklist with time frames which are constantly checked and monitored.
“We prepare a calving kit, which is ready to go at the springer paddock,” says Freya. “It includes calf tags, marker pens, metabolics, drugs, a thermometer, calving ropes, gloves, lube and an emergency blanket.”
Building resilient systems
Two years ago the farm had to contend with several cases of rotavirus and cryptosporosis, and Freya says their cleaning regime meant they faced less than two percent deaths.
“We spray the calf shed with Envirosan QHF every three days. We found having a regular programme can stop outbreaks from occurring, or prevent things getting worse."
Preparation for the season also involves a thorough clean and spray of all equipment and the calf sheds, and the herd is vaccinated for rotavirus in two stages prior to calving.
Springers are monitored several times a day, and calves are bought in twice a day or more if the weather is cold and wet. Regular night checking is done by Daniel, with Freya assisting where needed.
Freya says making sure calves are fed fresh colostrum as soon as possible is
“Colostrum milk is put into labelled drums, separated into first (gold), second and other colostrum, using the gold colostrum for new calves.”
Close care and observation
Freya says they keep a close eye on calves for any slight changes in health.
“We monitor calves closely, keeping an eye out for any sign of ill health such
as droopy ears, mucky or dull eyes, lack lustre skin, lethargy or a change in the way they feed. Treating them correctly and early stops bigger issues escalating.”
For the first two weeks, Freya feeds the calves on a compartment feeder so they can be monitored and regrouped according to the speed they drink.
“The calves are weighed and resorted into mobs on size every week, which helps with over or under feeding issues and makes the weaning transition easier.”
Technology driving efficiency
Freya has adopted technology into her calving system to make life easier.
“A milk warmer is set up with a timer so warm milk is ready at the shed when I arrive. I also have a pump for our mobile feeder, which along with an extension on the hose, works extremely well. Being able to accurately read the litres of milk fed is really beneficial.”
Value of industry support
Freya finds great value in getting involved with groups like Dairy Women’s
“It’s an opportunity to reaffirm or learn new ideas, as well as a great support network. Always remember that many people will be going through the same issues – don’t be afraid to ask for advice or help.”
This article was originally published in Inside Dairy June 2015