Why weigh this winter
Mother Nature can throw anything at southern Australian livestock producers during winter.
Big rains and long stretches of cold, overcast days can lead to pugged pastures, soggy crops, and animal health issues. Equally, dry winters and frosty mornings can deliver challenges around feed availability.
Maintaining the health and productivity of your animals, regardless of the weather, is vital – but you can only manage what you can measure. Accurate weight data can provide an account of an animal’s health and welfare and the information you need to make fast and informed business decisions.
Here are the top five reasons to weigh livestock during winter and how it benefits on-farm profitability:
Monitoring autumn-calved cows and heifers
Maintaining the weight of autumn-calved cows and heifers is vital to ensuring the health and productivity of both them and their calf and – most importantly – maximising their likelihood of rebreeding.
Throughout this period, females may require extra energy and nutrition to support milk production, while maintaining their own weight to have the best chance of getting back in calf.
Weight data assists producers to make decisions about the health of their breeders and if supplementary feeding is required.
Set-up spring calvers
Maximising the health of cows and heifers prior to calving is a powerful tool to support a low-stress birth.
The easier a cow or heifer calves, the faster they recover and begin to maximise milk production, gain weight, and optimise their health for rebreeding.
This means pre-calving nutrition is vital, and one of the most effective ways to ensure your cows and heifers are receiving enough energy is to monitor their weight.
Get ahead of internal parasites
One of the first signs of livestock ill-health is weight loss. Unfortunately, this isn’t always evident from general observations until a lot of weight has been dropped or livestock are showing additional signs of sickness.
Regularly weighing cattle means you have a record of weight fluctuations and can act quickly to address any problems.
For example, you can treat gastrointestinal worms earlier, circumventing any long-term issues for individual animals while decreasing the broader worm burden for the rest of the season.
Weighing cattle regularly is the best way to understand if they require additional feed.
A slight decrease in animal liveweight might mean you need to offer a little more crop when you move strip-graze tape or provide an additional fibre source.
Best placed to deal with unpredictable weather
Having an accurate understanding of the health and welfare of your herd, through regularly weighing, ensures you can make informed and timely decisions quickly when faced with unpredictable weather.
For example, knowing the weight of your herd provides a guide to their market value if you want to sell.
Tru-Test Remote Walk Over Weighing
Tru-Test by Datamars Livestock offers a range of weighing solutions, including walk over weighing systems, as well as in-paddock four and two-foot weighing options, to capture liveweight at the individual animal level, without the need for human intervention or contact.
The data is processed and delivered via cloud technology and used to generate daily online weighing reports that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. These powerful insights help to identify trends and better manage your herd.
With no need to move stock to the yards to collect weights, animals will be less stressed and conserve valuable energy over the cooler months. Importantly, you will have more time to reassign labour and resources to other parts of the business.
Article written by Datamars for Seasons magazine.
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