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Rural Diary_Blog_Drench management for reared calves
8 October 2018 Jason Leslie

Drench management for reared calves

Weaning is a period of stress for calves, with scouring common during this time. But it is not always due to worms.

To minimise the transition shock of weaning, a progressive process is recommended where milk intake is reduced and meal intake is increased over  a period of up to six weeks. This allows the rumen and intestines to adjust to the new feed source, reducing incidence of coccidiosis and nutritional scours which are the most common cause of scours.Calf meals containing coccidiostats are important and once intake declines  below 1 kg per calf per day, they become   effective at managing the protozoan parasite. Affected calves often have a tail coated with dark faeces which contain digested blood and mucous.

When symptoms become serious, veterinary  advice including a faecal sample diagnosisis required with specific treatment initiated. Internal worms don’t become a significant issue in calves until grass is the greatest part of their diet for at least a month. Infective larvae are ingested which causes depressed feed intake and subsequent poor liveweight gain. The need fordrenching generally occurs when calves are approximately 100 kg.The take home message is that calves that are kept in sheds and fed primarily milk, pellets and hay do not need drenching for worms when released from the shed as they haven’t taken in any infective larvae. 

The following considerations are crucial for drench use: 

  • Ensure all equipment is clean and delivering the correct dose of drench using a measuring cylinder.
  • Abamectin is toxic in calves less than 100 kg.
  • The safest drench option for the first drench is a BZ/levamisole oral combination, for example VETMED Combomax.
  • Don’t drench while the calves are feeding, or mix drench with milk as this can result in toxicity, death or ineffective drenching.
  • Drench calves at 28 day intervals through the summer and autumn  using a triple combination oral product, for example VETMED Triplemax.
  • Do a 10 day post drench check once during the summer to determine if the drench is working effectively.
  • Due to the size of animals in the autumn, changing to either an injectable or pour on product may be considered. Whatever product used, it must contain levamisole to control Cooperia worms. 

Drenching is only part of the parasite control programme. Where possible the following points are equally important to consider:

  • Avoid running high stocking rates of  calves on the same paddocks year after year. This results in high infective larvae burdens.
  • Nutrition of the calf is paramount to ensure effective immune function. This includes optimal weaning transition feeding, trace element supplementation and preventative vaccinations.
  • Incorporate grazing of adult cattle or other species, for example sheep to reduce pasture contamination.
  • Stick to regular 28 day drench programme with effective triple combination oral drenches, for example VETMED Triplemax to prevent contamination of pasture.

To put an effective parasite programme in place, talk to your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative. 


Jason Leslie

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Surety of water supply provides opportunities for Creekside Farms

01 October 2018

A key contributor to running a profitable sheep and beef farming operation is surety of water supply. This is especially important in drought-prone areas of New Zealand such as Central Otago.

Adam and Juls Lindsay own Creekside Farms on the Maniototo Plains near Ranfurly. They undertook a significant farm development, which includes irrigation, to ensure their 2,000 hectare sheep and beef operation is drought resistant.

The farm primarily runs Perendale sheep including 10,500 breeding ewes, 2,000 ewe hoggets and 120 rams. In addition they run 1,000 Merino wethers, winter 1,000 cattle and graze 800 dairy cows.
Adam Lindsay said, “When we took over the property in 2011 it had an irrigation system but it only covered 65 hectares (ha). The Maniototo Plains is prone to dry, hot summers and we needed to be more drought tolerant. We manage our farm inputs carefully, with one of those being water supply.

“We took advantage of the natural contours of the farm when planning the development which took five years to complete. We put in place a storage pond which has a capacity of up to 1.5 million cubic metres and installed four additional pivots – with the six pivots now providing coverage of 520ha. We have water rights to draw from the Kyeburn River, which runs alongside the eastern boundary of the farm, and is pumped to the top of the hill to fill the pond over a six month period. The water is gravity fed to the irrigation system during the summer months. We undertook the development so that we can make operational decisions on our terms and not be constrained due to adverse weather conditions.

“In March last year we bought in 2,000 trading cattle through the Go Beef scheme. Our Livestock Agent Ryan suggested the scheme, and it was a facility that met our needs at the time. This enabled us to hold the cattle through to spring (selling 1,000 through an on-farm sale in October 2017) and we finished the remaining cattle and sent them off in July 2018.” said Adam.

PGG Wrightson Senior Livestock Agent Ryan Dowling has worked with Adam and Juls since they moved to the Maniototo Plains in 2011.

Ryan said, “Adam is a progressive farmer and is always looking ahead to make productivity gains. Signing up to Go Beef was the right option for their farming operation last year and it worked well for them, but next year it might be procuring trading lambs to hold over the winter months. We work closely to ensure that every livestock trading opportunity is considered so they can make the most of any opportunities that arise. Their farm development has provided them with flexibility. It means that they can buy and sell stock when it suits them and they are often able to sell stock at a premium rather than due to weather conditions. They are well respected in the farming community. It is great to work with a farmer who knows the sheep and beef market well. Adam and operators like him are the future of New Zealand farming,” said Ryan.

Adam adds, “We have worked with Ryan for a while now and he knows our operation and is always looking out for opportunities for us. It works well. Our aim is to run a business that is profitable and sustainable. We fine tune how we do things, for example, lifting the lamb and beef weights year-on-year. There is always something we can do better. We try and do everything to our best ability and be proactive. We plan well ahead and work backwards. Our approach is we can control what happens on farm, but we can’t control external factors such as the lamb schedule and the weather. We farm for a drought. When we have favourable weather conditions, we have a good year. Last year for example, because of the irrigation, we were able to get through the drought and hold stock through until it rained. This meant we didn’t have to store stock. We have good access to water now, so we will continue to build up capital stock numbers and seek improvements across our business,” said Adam.


Pictured: PGG Wrightson Senior Livestock Agent Ryan Dowling views Creekside Farms’ storage pond with Adam and Juls Lindsay, along with Sarge, in the Maniototo Plains in July 2018

October Rural Real Estate Report With Peter Newbold and Jamie Mackay

08 October 2018

PGG Wrightson Real Estate's GM told The Country's Jamie Mackay, "What is encouraging is that volume is up on last year and there is a "strong feeling," that there will be "a lot of activity pushing through to Christmas."  Farm sales volume have dropped, which is a surprise to Peter Newbold, who thought there would be early spring sales.

Mackay also asks about this week's Property of the Week which is a dairy farm in Oxford. Newbold says the fully irrigated dairy unit is "a great one for Canterbury." Peter also gives his monthly report on rural properties including sheep and beef, dairy and horticulture.

Livestock Market Update October 2018

09 October 2018

Spring is now with us and as we round off the yearling sales season across the country sheep are achieving exceptional prices in the North. Catch up on all the commentary below.

North Island

As we hit September a weather front hit the North Island and lingered over the East Coast and inland to the Central Plateau. This storm has been devastating for farmers in these areas. 

Although it was a quieter month since we saw exceptional sheep values achieved through the yards, streets ahead of the values achieved at the works. 

Yearling and service bull sales are in full swing with most achieving good clearances and sale price averages exceeding expectations to date.

Most of the North Island has had its fair share of moisture now, and with the days getting longer and the sun out again we should see feed conditions moving again.  At a time when the demand for stock will escalate it may be hard to source.

South Island

October has started with a rush, as dairy bull sales have begun, spring cattle sales throughout the South Island and the last of the last years lambs making their way to the works.

Spring conditions have been ideal, other than the odd cold southerly snap which come with territory in spring. In most of the areas there has been good growth conditions, ideal for shutting up paddocks for supplementary feed and putting condition on stock.

As most districts are well through their lambing’s, coupled with favourable weather, the lamb survival rate has been good. Indications Lamb and Sheep pricing look to remain strong for the coming season.


Spring sales activity in dairy has been increasingly influenced by farmers placing a premium on traceability.

Service bull sales are proceeding well, with farmers becoming increasingly committed to securing bulls that are fully traceable. A single origin is preferable, and if not, the least number of movements possible is what the market seeks. That goes for all sales, whether yearling Jersey bulls to two-year-old beef bulls. In fact, for all stock purchases now, including heifers sold prior to mating, farmers are asking the same questions, with the traceability aspect being a non-negotiable.

There is a new “normal”, with the market realising that industry good recommendations are sound advice, and responding accordingly.


Yearling bull sales are coming to a conclusion in the North Island and starting in the South Island. Bull prices and sale clearances so far have been strong due to strong demand to source Bulls from reputable breeders and continued strong two year old sales.

As Christmas approaches it’s the time of year to start thinking about ram selection for next season. With the outlook for the lamb schedule looking positive, there is no better time to get in contact with your local livestock rep or genetics specialist for advice when purchasing rams whether your focus is growth rate, fertility or yield to maximise your bottom line.

With the wide variety of rams available at auction or on farm we have got you covered.

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