Take a Good Honest Look at Cow Performance
Whatever the system, calving time demands an increased level of care and attention, so much so, that for some it becomes a labour of love. However, a task done for pleasure, with no financial reward cannot sustain farming families and staff in the long term.
Where people have sought improvement, with effor t, they have usually got improvement. The starting point is to have a good honest look at cow performance, an area Harbro discuss increasingly with customers.
We all have a job to do, but to consider a suckler cow system simplistically; ‘look after the cows and they will look after the calves’. That is the attitude taken by Harbro’s Orkney sales specialist, Colin Thomson, when advising customers around the Orkney Isles.
Super Suckler leading the way
On Colin’s advice, Luke Rendall, Lochside Farm, Westray, started using Super Suckler SEC for his herd of 80 continental suckler
cows after a spell of vitamin E deficiency in calves. On Luke’s farm this has eliminated the need for using an injectable as a fire brigade response to ailing calves, which was too often, too late. The problem was solved, not solely by the vitamin E level in Super Suckler but Sel-Plex the unique form of selenium that is shown to increase cow blood selenium levels. Adequate selenium, in the cow and calf, reduces the drain on vitamin E as an antioxidant, and so the positive effect is seen.
Fellow Westray farmers Allan and Thomas Pottinger of Tuquoy, are seeing the benefits of Super Suckler in calf vigour and cow health, with calves suckling and cows cleansing in a shorter period of time, with little, if any, intervention required for his 180 continental cows.
Super Suckler can be used pre and post calving, an approach taken by long standing Harbro customer John Gordon of Wellheads, Huntly. ‘We use Super Suckler SEC for the whole herd in both the powdered and bucket form. Newly born calves are quicker onto their feet and we also find that calves are born with great vigour and have the willingness to suck, this is key for us, as calving is at a busy time of year. We rarely have to assist with any pre or post calving issues.’ comments John.
A good start for both, means the cow can get on with the next job, resuming the oestrus cycle and getting back in calf. Cu-tek and Zn-tek, are protected forms of copper and zinc respectively, which avoid the antagonistic effect of elements such as iron and molybdenum commonly high in forages. These features with the aforementioned selenium boost and the added bucket benefit of Omega 3 oils is benefitting Calum Keir from Cairncoullie, Glenkindie, Aberdeenshire. Calum, like many other farmers the length of the country are increasing fertility and reducing the calving period of their herds.
‘We use Super Suckler to balance shortfalls in local trace element deficiencies which ensure we have productive cows and healthy new born calves that are able to reach their potential. Powder is fed inside, through a TMR and mineral buckets are fed outside which covers both spring and autumn calving, providing pre and post calving minerals. Since feeding Super Suckler conception rate in the first cycle has increased.’ comments Calum.
So, whatever the scale, system or stock a suckler cow has three roles: to successfully calve, get back in calf and rear a calf. We just have to enable her do that.