A unique feeding system that breaks completely new ground in terms of how farmers approach the most critical phase of a young calf’s life – the period from birth to weaning - will be profiled courtesy of a workshop to be hosted by Thomas, Richard and Olive Lilburn on Thursday, November 8th.
The event, which will take place on the family’s Moira farm, will be co-hosted by Mason’s Animal Feeds.
The Portadown-based feed compounder is responsible for introducing the new calf rearing system into Northern Ireland. Company managing director Colin Purdy takes up the story.
“Research and development work carried out in Spain has confirmed the importance of meeting key nutritional targets as it transitions from birth to weaning and beyond.
“In turn this has led to the development of a bespoke rearing system that meets this need. It does not, in any way, reduce the need for farmers to maintain the highest levels of stockmanship and calf rearing facilities, but rather it complements all of this.”
The initial impact of the new system can be created by adding specialised additives -Diter and Immuprim - to the colostrum and calf milk offered for the first few days after birth.
Mason’s recommend the feeding of a bespoke Inzar milk powder right through to weaning. This approach ensures that the growing calf receives all of the nutrients it requires in a balanced manner. Both new products also contain additives, which act to reduce the levels of pathogenic organisms in the growing calf’s gut which can cause disease.
Core to the new system is a series of bespoke concentrates, which facilitate rumen development. The first of these is Quick Start, which is offered on ad lib basis from Day 1 to Day 28. This is mealy ration containing a bespoke mineral, vitamin, and additive package, specifically designed to encourage rumen development.
Clean straw, fresh water and good quantities of clean bedding should also be available to calves at all times.
From Day 28 through to calves reaching a bodyweight of 120 kgs, Mason’s new Papin Calf ration should be offered to the growing animals. It is a high-quality ration, designed to allow calves to express their growth potential in full while, at the same time, ensuring that their health status is maximised.
“By taking this approach local farmers are finding that calves can be weaned at a significantly earlier age while at the same time being primed to grow on successfully.”
The Lilburns have been using the new system for the past 12 months. Their 240 strong Brookvale Holstein herd is currently averaging 8,500L at 4.10% butterfat and 3.35% protein.
Olive takes all to do with the rearing of the calves on the farm.
“The new system definitely works,” she said.
“The calves perform tremendously well and disease levels have been brought down to very low levels indeed.”
Olive added: “We are committed to calving heifers at 24 months. The new feeding system will help us achieve this aim.”
The Farm Workshop gets underway at 11.00am on November 8th. Refreshments will be available on arrival.
The Lilburn farm is located at 80 Redhill Road, Dromore, Co. Down BT 25 1RL
For further information, telephone Mason’s Animal feeds on (028) 3887 1415.