As the weather begins to improve, farmers can start to consider turning out some of their older calves to grass.
Getting calves out to grass can have a major benefit to liveweight gains, and it can help to reduce health issues.
Furthermore, it can also reduce the amount of bedding and management required when they are housed.
Turning out calves
If you are looking at turning out some calves to grass, access to shelter or a dry lying-area can be beneficial.
On some farms, calves can access the calf shed from a paddock. Where that is not possible, the use of a home-made shelter or a hutch can be useful.
If these temporary structures are being used it is important that they are moved regularly to avoid causing damaging to the ground.
Calves that are now weaned-off milk or those on a once-a-day (OAD) feeding programme should be the animals that are turned out first.
Once calves are turned out they should be trained to the electric fence.
After the first few days, once they have settled, divisions can be introduced to the paddock.
Two strands are ideal, but where that is not possible, lower the high of the temporary fence.
Training them to the electric fence now, will save future headaches.
It will also help to get the calves into a good grazing habit and hopefully, lead to better clean-outs in the future.
For young calves, grass is not the best source of feed for rumen development.
This is due to grass often being quite lush at this time of year and low in fibre. Because of this, they should continued to be offered hay or straw as a source of fibre.
Continue to offer them fresh concentrates everyday and ensure that they have access to fresh water.