Calf Rearing for Small Blocks

Level NA Cost $390 excl

Length Two days

Course Starting Various start dates throughout the year

Taratahi's, Calf Rearing for Small Blocks two-day rural skills workshop is ideal for those small block holders who want to gain or refresh their calf rearing skills from birth through to weaning.

The workshop will cover the following topics:

  • How the end purpose of the calf determines the breed to buy, its management, and the duration before starting again with new calves.
  • The options for buying calves and the advantages/disadvantages of each, including sale yards, dairy farms, and breeders.  
  • Pre-purchase treatment of the calf to ensure: at least 4 days old, have had colostrum for at least four days and within the first 12 hours, and have a dry navel.
  • The Animal Welfare Act and Code of Welfare expectations when calf rearing.
  • Transporting calves to the small block to meet the Code of Welfare and NAIT requirements. 
  • Practical small block housing options that meet the Code of Welfare requirements, with their advantages and disadvantages.  Including orientation, drainage, lead paint risk, disinfecting against ringworm, the pitfalls of using a woolshed, and having an isolation area for unwell calves.  
  • Practical bedding options that must be clean and dry.
  • Fencing suitable for calves: seven wire fences and battens are required, possibly with the use of temporary electric fences depending on the layout of the block.


  • How the calf changes physically and in the care it needs from the 4 – 10 day old they buy, taking it to weaning on a milk-based diet, and to a post weaning pasture-based diet.  
  • Practical options for feeders and drinkers, with their advantages and disadvantages.  The value of compartmented feeders.
  • Recommend a first electrolyte feed to transition to the new property.
  • The practicalities of using milk replacer: suitable products, the right temperature, mixing ratios.
  • The practicalities of using calf meal: suitable meal options including added coccidiostat, when to introduce, quantities to use, feeding methods.
  • The importance of clean drinking water, even when feeding milk replacer. 


  • Recommended weaning procedure.  Suitable meal or straw to achieve rumen development.  Are target weights more important than age?
  • Gradually increasing meal and decreasing milk for transition weaning, this may include early reduction of milk to encourage eating more meal.
  • Maintaining shed access during transition, for bad weather protection.
  • Importance of pasture quality and quantity once pasture feeding post-weaning, how to know what “good” is, and managing pasture to achieve this.


  • Maintaining hygiene of facilities and equipment.
  • Visible signs of poor health, and common health issues that these might indicate.
  • Basic treatment of unwell calves, and knowing when to call the vet.
  • Planning a vet visit for multiple interventions: anaesthetize, dehorn, castrate, vaccinate and tag
  • Why and when to drench calves, drench families, choosing a suitable drench, using a tape to estimate weights for dose rates, reducing the risk of resistance through equipment calibration and drench selection.
  • Drenching techniques and practice.
  • Withholding periods and record keeping when using animal remedies.

Entry criteria for the workshop : You must be 16 years of age or older.

Teas and coffees provided, please bring your own lunch.

This rural skills workshop is available in all of Taratahi's regions.  If you would like to know the date of the next workshop at a region near you, then please get in touch with us either by emailing or on 0800 827 2824 and speak to a member of our enquiries team.

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