Calves arrive to soggy fields

PENNY WARDLE
Last updated 12:46 06/08/2012

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Yesterday's sunny conditions were an agreeable respite but newborn calves have been getting a wet welcome to Marlborough.

The 300 cows on Adrian and Marlene White's Pukematai dairy farm and stud at Marshlands, near Rarangi, started calving nearly a month ago. This was about 10 days sooner than expected, Mr White said.

"We don't want any more rain. It gets a bit messy," he said.

Paddocks were very wet last week and cows were being run on the highest land. Yesterday's fine weather was good to see but muddy conditions will take a week or so to dry out and more rain is forecast for Tuesday.

About 70 calves had been born so far. All had a feed of colostrum off their mothers and were then hand-reared in a shed.

Purebred friesian female calves were kept to eventually replace cows in the dairy herd but crossbred and bull calves were sold, Mr White said.

On Thursday he sent his first draft of crossbred bobby calves to the Alliance freezing works in Nelson.

In the past two years bobby calves had fetched $20 to $40 but he did not know how much Alliance would pay this year.

The crossbred calves were the progeny of heifers - first-time mothers run with a jersey bull, which was smaller than a friesian, Mr White said. Finishers bought the purebred bull calves, which they raised for beef or on-sold.

Last year finishers paid about $80 a head but it was too early to talk about the prices this year.

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- The Marlborough Express

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