Management Of The Herd
Up to now the heifers have calved generally at 30 months, in the autumn. From next spring, the whole herd will calve in the spring (main calving January to March) and the cows and calves will stay in the shed over winter. Before, the cows with calves were allowed out in the paddock at the back of shed and were coming in to feed. We have reorganised the shed and put in slats where the cows stay for the winter. There is a straw lie back for the calves.
The cows are fed on hay (if the previous summer was good enough to make it) or on silage. Before calving they are fed a set amount twice a day (2 bales of silage and 1 bale of straw for 70 cows per day), after calving they are fed ad lib. The fodder is distributed evenly to make sure each animal can feed comfortably. The cows do not get any ration but get natural salt licks all year round. The young calves get a small amount of feed until they go out to grass. The bull calves get 1 ½ kgs of ration per head coming up to weaning, heifers do not get any. The bull calves not sold as weanlings or for breeding are castrated and fed silage and 1kg of meal, as a maintenance diet over the winter. The heifers until this year were getting only silage. We have now decided to calve at 2 years old and to keep them growing they now get 1 kg of meal per day over the winter. Another strong point of the Aubrac is that they pick up very quickly when the conditions become good and animals turn inside out in a month of decent weather and a bit of fresh grass. During the summer the cows and calves are grazed on a paddock system with a rotation of approximately 5 days depending on the size of the field and the size of the group. This way they have regular access to fresh grass. In June the herd is separated in 2 groups, one with heifer calves, the other with bull calves.
The vet bills are small, overall the Aubrac is a tough healthy animal with small incidence of pneumonia, very few ceasarians, ( 4 since 96 all due to malpresentation). We dose when needed, the animals are not vaccinated against anything. The cows are scanned in the autumn. At calving the cows are looked at during the day and last thing at night. If nothing looks like calving then they are not checked until morning. In 2014 we had 56 calves from 55 cows.