Calf-rearing In New Zealand

Calf-rearing is a pivotal stage in the NZ dairy industry, as it involves the careful care and management of newborn calves from birth until weaning. Learn more about the importance and responsibilities of a calf-rearer for New Zealand's dairy industry.

Calf-rearing is a pivotal stage in the dairy industry, as it involves the careful care and management of newborn calves from birth until weaning. This practice is very important as it sets the foundation for a healthy and productive herd. 

Between July and October, most calves are born in New Zealand. That’s when Calving Season starts. The timing is strategically planned to align with optimal pasture growth - spring months - and ensure that cows produce milk during the peak production months. Calf-rearers play a crucial role in the successful development and growth of newborn calves, ensuring their health, welfare, and productivity.

Some of the responsibilities of a calf-rearer involve:

  1. Feeding: calf-rearers ensure newborn calves receive sufficient colostrum shortly after birth to build immunity, as well as provide a balanced diet of milk or milk replacer tailored to their nutritional needs. They monitor feeding schedules, manage weaning processes, and ensure calves have access to clean water and fresh feed.
  2. Health care: monitoring the health of newborn calves is essential to catch any signs of illness or disease early on. Calf-rearers are responsible for observing calves for any signs of distress, administering vaccinations as per the recommended schedule, and promptly seeking veterinary care when necessary. 
  3. Environmental management: creating a clean and comfortable environment is essential for the well-being of calves. Calf-rearers ensure that paddocks or calf sheds are kept clean, well-ventilated, and appropriately bedded. They manage waste disposal and regularly check on them, especially during bad weather.
  4. Growth monitoring: calf-rearers keep track of weight gain, body condition, and general growth to ensure calves are progressing as expected. 
  5. Record-Keeping: maintaining accurate records is an important aspect of calf-rearing. Calf-rearers document important information such as birth dates, health records, vaccinations, and any interventions or treatments provided. These records aid in tracking the progress of individual calves, identifying potential issues.

By fulfilling these responsibilities, calf-rearers contribute significantly to the overall health, growth, and future productivity of the herd, playing a vital role in the success of the dairy farming industry. As the world continues to advance agricultural practices, calf-rearing remains a cornerstone of our country’s commitment to excellence in dairy farming.

If you are looking for a calf-rearer for the upcoming Calving Season, or you are a calf-rearer looking for a new farm to perform your role, get in touch with me on my email, or my phone 027 258 4293 and I’ll be happy to help you out.

- Brooke Tait, Agricultural Recruitment Consultant at Trinity