Calf rearer focused on NAIT obligations
North Otago calf rearer Jared Ovens is in partnership with a local dairy farmer trading calves and grazing his heifer replacements. They manage their NAIT obligations by scanning animals on and off-farm.
What is your current farming operation?
We have a 10-hectare block and a two-hectare block which we are selling, both are under the same NAIT location number. Presently we have about 40 grazing dairy heifers. During the year we rear calves mainly Friesian bulls, Hereford bulls and heifers.
How long have you been calf rearing?
This is our fourth year. I’m not full-time on-farm and have another job as an Animal Health Territory Manager for the local Veterinary Centre looking after 120 dairy farms.
Why did you choose to manage calves?
I grew up on a dairy farm and the industry has been a big part of my life. I didn’t want to run a fully operational dairy farm and the calf rearing started off small and has just kept growing.
How many calves do you expect to rear this year?
We’re looking at around 300 and we’ll start bringing them on-farm from around late July right through to September.
Do you buy your calves from different farmers?
We used to source them from four different farmers, but now we have one local client. We’re in a partnership and I also look after his heifer replacements. It’s just easier to go and pick them up from one location and you know then what herd they’ve come from.
How do you manage your NAIT obligations?
My client [calf seller] and me use livestock scanners. When he’s moving the calves on to the truck at his farm, he’ll scan them, and when they arrive at my end, I scan them off. He’ll make a sending movement on the same day and I’ll confirm in my NAIT account.
Who looks after your NAIT account?
I do. If we’re bringing calves on-farm, I’ll do it regularly and check in once a week to ensure it’s all up to date. My wife Meriana is in charge of feeding the calves.
When do you send the calves off-farm?
From August to December. We never finish calves. The majority are contracted and private sales and they’re long-term relationships we’ve built. Occasionally we’ll send some to a saleyard.
Any NAIT tips for calf rearers?
I would recommend having a livestock scanner so you scan the calves every time they come into the yard or at weighing time. That way you can keep track of any lost tags or animals. It’s better to keep on top of things at the time rather than leaving it to when the truck comes to take them.
A recent MPI report shows farmers are more engaged with NAIT, why do you think that is?
The Mycoplasma bovis outbreak has had an impact and farmers are now realising the value of traceability and it does not pay anymore to take shortcuts. I think those who are less willing to change are the minority and some have since got out of the industry as a result.