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No. 25 (December 1958)
– 53 –

SEASONAL WORK ON THE FARM

FARMERS ADVISED TO MAKE PLANS TO PREVENT OUTBREAKS OF FACIAL ECZEMA

The Department of Agriculture warns farmers that if warm rains fall in late summer or autumn, after a spell of hot weather, facial eczema is likely to occur in districts which are usually affected. Experience during recent years has shown conclusively that the disease can be prevented by shutting sheep up at a rate which leaves no pasture in the paddock after 24 hours.

Sheep should be shut up as soon as rains fall and should be confined until the weather becomes either hot and dry or much cooler and the pasture visibly hardens. If the summer is hot, plans should be made for action as follows:

Good hay at 2lb per sheep per day will prevent loss of condition. Even if adequate hay is not available, ewes are not harmed by 1 or 2 weeks' starvation when ample water is provided. It is better to take precautions too often than to run the risk of a disastrous outbreak of facial eczema.

If crops of rape, kale, turnips, or chou moellier are available, they can safely be grazed during the dangerous period. The grazing of such crops is the only satisfactory way of preventing the disease in lambs, which react badly to restricted grazing.

Lucerne has not proved safe, possibly because of ryegrass which is frequently present as a weed, but in east coast districts paddocks of pure white clover are safe and lambs do well on them. Bulletin No. 338. “Losses from Facial Eczema Can be Prevented,” is available from all Department of Agriculture offices.

MANAGEMENT OF SOWS AND WEANERS

Sows with litters should be fed each day 4 gallons of milk plus 2/3 gallon per pig suckled. Sows and litters should be allowed at least 2 hours' grazing per day.

It is an advantage to provide water sprays for both suckling and dry sows during summer, as pigs possess very few sweat glands and can be kept cool only by the evaporation of water from the skin. Litters over 3 weeks old must have milk and meal available at all times. Observations at the Department of Agriculture's Ruakura Animal Research Station have shown that piglets suckle at intervals of 75 to 90 minutes throughout the 24 hours, and after the sixth week visit the creep after each suckling. Good creep management can add 6lb to 10lb per pig to the weaning weight.

Weaned sows must be well fed to ensure successful mating. A ration of 4 to 6 gallons of milk daily plus grass is essential. Weaned pigs should be fed 1 ½ to 2 gallons of milk daily. If the milk available is not sufficient to provide this, the feeding of meal to supplement the milk ration, 1lb of meal replacing 1 gallon of milk, is highly profitable at the present prices of meal and meat.

CARE OF CALVES DURING AUTUMN

Autumn is a critical period for calves. Deaths during winter can be eliminated by rotating the calves through the paddocks ahead of the cows at intervals of 3 or 4 days. If this is not being done, the Department of Agriculture recommends that it should be begun immediately. Calves treated in such a way will be up to 100lb. heavier as yearlings than those kept confined in a calf paddock.

If calves are unthrifty and scouring, it may be necessary to give two or three doses of phenothiazine at 3-weekly intervals, but this is seldom necessary with calves which are rotationally grazed.

EASIER CLEANING OF FARM DRAINS WITH SIDE-MOUNTED EQUIPMENT FOR TRACTORS

A hydraulically controlled drain cleaner which is side mounted on a wheel tractor is a further improvement to the many mechanical aids to drain cleaning already available in New Zealand. This equipment mounted on the side of the tractor has eliminated the tedious manoeuvring necessary to discharge filled buckets on front- or rear-mounted cleaners, states an article in the January issue of “The New Zealand Journal of Agriculture.”

A machine with a side-mounted cleaner can be driven parallel to the drains, depositing the sludge behind it. This allows quicker clearance with minimum disturbance of drain edges.

The bucket has an are of travel of about 270 degrees and can deposit cleanings in front, behind, or at the side. A hydraulically controlled foot has a counterbalance attached and is used when the cleaner is working on drain edges.

Such machines have eliminated much of the drudgery from one of the very necessary and more arduous routine jobs on farms that depend on open drains to remove surplus water.