Linden Livestock grows from strength to strength

Linden Foods' supply chain manager Frank Foster (left) and William Davidson in one of the two bespoke calf rearing units on the Davidson's Magheralin farm

Linden Foods' supply chain manager Frank Foster (left) and William Davidson in one of the two bespoke calf rearing units on the Davidson's Magheralin farm

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Linden Livestock’s ongoing investment in state-of-the-art-calf rearing units is ensuring a constant supply of high quality weaned Angus and Continental calves. These animals are then sold on for finishing to beef farmers across Northern Ireland.

“It’s an integrated process,” confirmed Linden’s supply chain manager Frank Foster.

“We are working closely with professional calf rearers, who have both the skills and the bespoke facilities to rear dairy bred beef calves to the highest specification,” he said.

“These high quality animals are then offered to farmers, who will commit to finish them between 20 and 24 months. They are primed to meet this growth target using optimal use of grazed grass.”

Mr Foster also confirmed that the investment in the bespoke rearing units represents a partnership arrangement between Linden Livestock and individual calf rearers.

“The number of calf units continues to increase,” he said.”

A case in point is William Davidson, who farms near Magheralin with his son Matthew. They have recently committed to a second unit, having been of the original six calf rearers identified by Linden Livestock.

“Both buildings can accommodate 120 calves with comfort when full,” William explained. “Each has been specifically designed to meet the exact needs of young calves with a strong emphasis placed on getting the ventilation right and providing the comfort these young animals need from the minute they arrive to the day they leave.”

Linden Livestock is sourcing a mix of Angus scheme approved and continental calves directly from dairy farmers across Northern Ireland.

“Everything is done on a weight basis,” William added. “The calves arrive in with me weighing around 50 kilos. They are weaned at between 65 and 70 kilos, subsequently leaving the units at around 100 kilos.

“From the outset the calves are offered high quality milk replacer and starter feed. Weaning usually takes place between five and six weeks after their arrival. An all-out: all-in policy is strictly adhered to, where the calves are concerned. Both sheds are thoroughly cleaned out between each batch of calves.”

Linden’s Wilson Giffen is the livestock officer in charge of the calf rearing units. He explained that all the bespoke units are purpose built to provide high welfare, well ventilated calf rearing accommodation.

He added: “Once they reach 100 kilos in weight, they are batched to meet the customer’s specification and prepared for moving to the finisher.

“During their period on the calf rearing unit the calves will be vaccinated against the major causes of respiratory disease including IBR, providing them with improved immune systems to help reduce infection.

“The objective of the calf units is to produce as well-grown calves in relation to their age, breed and sex. Research suggests that well-grown calves will perform better at later stages of life.

“This is achieved by ensuring that the calves are on a high plane of nutrition from the instant they enter the units. In addition, all aspects of management are of the highest standards.

“It is envisaged that the majority of the calves will enter a 21 to 24 month beef finishing system, aiming for a carcass weight of 280 to 340 kilos at less than two years old.”

Tassagh beef finisher Larry Nugent is one of the many farmers now sourcing weanlings from Linden Livestock. He is committed to purchasing 60 Angus and continental steers in the spring.

“This is my third year in so doing,” he said. “I am able to source high quality stock, all of which have been reared to the highest standards. The cattle thrive from the day they arrive on the farm. Purchasing stock in this way also ensures that the Angus calves all qualify for the bonus scheme.”

Larry’s commitment to Linden Livestock has been complemented with an active grassland re-seeding programme on the farm.

“As a result, I am able to get the cattle through to their finishing weights at around 24 months with a degree of ease. All the finished cattle are sold to Linden Foods.”

Mr Foster confirmed that Linden Livestock has a plentiful supply of weanling calves available for sale throughout the year.

“But we are also keen to forge good working relationships with additional dairy farmers, who would sell their Angus and continental dropped calves to Linden Livestock.”

Farmers wishing to sell calves or purchase weanlings from Linden Livestock should ring Wilson Giffen on 07736 885 402.