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DairyNZ Sector

Spring Toolbox

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Published June 2024
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Spring Toolbox

Key DairyNZ tools and resources for farmers, designed with the latest research and technology.

Spring Rotation Planner

Use this tool to ensure your pastures are strategically allocated post-calving for balanced grazing. Predict and manage average pasture cover (APC) decline to guarantee optimal feed supply until balance date. Keep tabs on grazing residuals to ensure your cows are well-fed. And track APC against targets to spot surplus or deficit periods.


Setting up for calving

Spring calving is just around the corner! Planning and preparing for calving with your farm team will reduce stress and keep everyone safe and healthy. Get set up for success with tips on:

  • crafting a solid team plan
  • keeping well during busy times
  • a pre-calving checklist
  • calving kit essentials
  • managing springer mobs.


Feeding newborn calves

Calves are born with no immunity, so to ensure they absorb antibodies and develop a strong immune system, it’s important to feed high-quality colostrum right after birth. During the first three weeks of life, they rely solely on milk for nutrients and growth since they can’t digest solid food yet. However, newborn calves can’t consume enough volume in one feed per day to thrive. To ensure they get enough milk, feed them twice a day or ad-lib for two to four weeks. This allows young calves to digest adequate amounts of milk and nutrients for good health and growth.


Caring for down cows

If you’re unsure whether a down cow can bear her own weight, roll her instead of lifting to help her get back on her feet – it’s quicker and safer for her. It’s important to note which leg she’s sitting on each time you check her. That’s because sitting on the same side all day means one back leg will take all the pressure from her body weight, which leads to nerve and muscle damage. If she can’t swap sides herself, regularly roll her onto her other side.


Giving calves the best start

Give your calves the best possible start and you’ll set them up for a strong and healthy future. Learn all the best practices for caring for calves including:

  • safe techniques for picking up calves
  • tips for accurate recording to help with genetic gains
  • simple steps for navel care
  • important steps for the first few hours of life.


BCS loss in early lactation

For the first 6-8 weeks postcalving, it’s natural for cows to dip into negative energy. They mobilise fat and muscle to meet the deficit. But aim to keep the loss to just 1 Body Condition Score (BCS) unit.

Come the start of mating, they should be back in a state of positive energy balance. If they’re not there yet, feed extra pasture or supplements, especially to younger and thinner cows. You can cut down on energy demands like switching to a period of oncea- day (OAD) milking.