Feeding crucial to animal transition post weaning
Published 30/10/2016 | 15:30
We all know how stressful travel can be. Be it an airport, train station or long car journey on busy roads, travel is a tiring experience.
Last week, in Amsterdam airport, having being redirected on what was supposed to be a direct flight home from Barcelona, I received a phone call from a beef farmer who had just arrived in Westmeath with a load of weanling bulls from Kerry.
In the background, I could hear the distinctive sound of recently-weaned animals. The stressful nature of my prolonged journey paled in significance with that of the young bulls who, a short time ago, were happily suckling at pasture.
Thousands of animals undertake similar journeys throughout Ireland at this time of year. The level of stress that they are placed under at this stage can have a significant effect of subsequent health and performance.
The weaning process, mart experience, transport and mixing with other animals, all bear a significant stress load, yet are unavoidable.
Another stress factor placed on this category of livestock is the sudden change in nutrition and surrounding environment. These animals can go from pasture on a diet of grass, milk and limited concentrates, to a shed on a diet of forage and increased levels of concentrates in the space of a few days.
Upon arrival on farm, animals should be kept in their purchased group and afforded a minimum of 24 hours' rest period. Ideally, this rest should take place in a straw-bedded shed away from previously purchased and existing farm animals.
The importance of a plentiful supply of clean, fresh water is huge, along with a palatable forage source. I always recommend that a beef finisher has a supply of good quality hay available for these animals.