The flexibility of a once-a-day calf feeding system has allowed a Galway agricultural contracting business to expand into calf rearing, increasing numbers year on year to 250.
Nigel Worrell and his partner, Vanessa, wanted to expand their business activities to generate income during quieter periods in the farming calendar but livestock production seemed unfeasible because of the constraints on their time at busier periods.
But Shine Once-a-Day calf milk replacer made that option possible.
“We discussed this with our new local agricultural merchant, Paul Conroy, and he explained how a friend and fellow agricultural merchant, Pat Fitzgerald, had received only positive feedback about Shine Once-a-Day milk replacer from his customers,” Nigel recalls.
Nigel admits both he and Vanessa were initially sceptical because they had previously experienced disappointing results with other milk replacers but decided they wanted to rear 30 calves as a trial in the first year.
They say the results were excellent and differed completely from what they had anticipated. Calves were content within 36 hours of starting on the system and their subsequent performance, especially at weaning, was impressive. There were no mortalities or nutritional upsets.
“Every evening, instead of calves being anxious for milk, they were playing around in the pen and could not be more content,” says Nigel.
The amount of good quality starter ration the calves consumed was remarkable.
Buoyed by the success of that first year, Nigel and Vanessa increased the number of calves they reared, to 250 in 2016. The calves are mainly Friesian bulls but with some Aberdeen Angus and Hereford bulls.
They now have an excellent reputation for delivering very healthy and thrifty calves, so much so that many of their clients are repeat buyers.
Nigel and Vanessa also sell some store cattle, with the last batch sold at 15 months last September averaging €2/kg liveweight.
They say the advice they have been given by Paul Conroy, of Conroy Agri, has been invaluable, providing them with a clear and simple feed plan to help guarantee success.
Paul explained how the unique balance of six fats, including butterfat and linseed oil, complemented low heat dried skimmed milk, cultured buttermilk and sweet whey to give a very palatable and easy mixing unique product.
“Paul stressed from the start that it is imperative every calf gets their allocated milk feed and the system only works with calves having access to clean fresh ration, water and clean fresh straw in a rack daily from the day of arrival,” says Vanessa.
With dairy farmers keen for Nigel and Vanessa to collect calves at a younger age, on the recommendation of Paul calves are fed Transformula in the first three days after they arrive on the farm.
Transformula is formulaled by Bonanza Calf Nutrition to feed stressed calves or to replace natural cow transition milk, which is a necessity on dairy farms where Johne’s disease is present.