An investment in new calf rearing facilities, combined with a total commitment to meeting the complete management needs of his calves on a daily basis, constitute an ‘investment’ that has paid off in spades for Broughshane milk producer James Wilson.
Currently milking 135 cows, averaging 8,000L per lactation, James is committed to breeding herd replacements that combine good production and longevity.
“I want to produce heifers that will calve down with ease at 24 months,” he said.
“There is no plan to increase cow numbers on the farm.
“This means that I have calved heifers to sell at different times of the year.
“So it makes total economic sense to have heifers calving at any early age but also with the scope to produce milk over a long number of lactations.
“AI is used on the heifers and a Holstein stock bull is currently running with the cows.
“We have had him for a couple of years. His daughters are now coming through and are showing plenty of promise.
“The calving season on the farm runs from August through to March.”
James is totally committed to giving his calves the best possible start.
“They get 4L of colostrum by way of a stomach tube as soon after birth as possible,” he confirmed.
“After a number of days they are put on milk replacer. Once they are well on their way the calves are switched to once a day feeding.
“Clean straw and water are also available ad lib from the very start as are calf starter pellets.
“For the past number of years, United Feeds’ Advance Starter pellets has been the feed of choice.
“They are very palatable, we have never had any digestive upsets and the growth rates achieved by the calves are tremendous.”
James normally weans his calves at 42 days, at which stage they will be consuming around 1.5 kilos of pellets per day.
After 12 weeks, he switches the calves on to United Feeds’ Advance Heifer Rearing Nuts.
“Again, the weanlings take to the feed very easily,” he confirmed.
United Feeds’ Sam Watson was a recent visitor to the Wilson farm.
“James’ calves are looking an absolute picture at the present time,” Sam confirmed.
“The new calf unit is well designed and constructed. It provides calves with a draught free environment.
“They also have plenty of room in which to display all of their natural behaviour patterns.
“Dairy farmers throughout Northern Ireland have found that United Feeds’ starter and rearing rations provide their calves with the nutritional boost required during those critical early weeks and months of development.”
But seeing is one thing: actively quantifying the growth rates being achieved by calves is something else entirely.
James Wilson again:“I now measure the height of the calves on a regular basis,” he explained.
“And the good news is that they are all well above the targets set for a 24-month first calving date.
“The new calf unit has helped make this possible, as has the superior nature of the United Feeds calf feed range.”
If you would like more details on United Feeds “Accelerated Heifer Rearing Program” or on calf rearing in general contact your local United Feeds Representative or Customer Services on 028 9075 9000.