Disease challenges compromising the rearing system at a Bangor dairy farm have been eliminated after calves were fed an innovative new transition milk replacer.
Transformula, the only transition milk replacer for baby calves, has been key to enabling replacement heifers in the Ottawa Holstein herd to achieve performance targets as calves no longer get infective and digestive upsets.
This has enabled father and son, David and Stephen Jackson, and their youngstock manager, Julian Spratt, to reduce labour and costs associated with calf rearing because of the time saved in dealing with disease issues.
The Jacksons run a high yielding herd (10,500L) of 270 cows at Fairview Farm on the Belfast Road.
For five years they had sought an effective milk replacer but could never get calves to drink more than two litres at each feed without causing digestive upsets, and even feeding at this rate could take up to 21 days to achieve.
The repercussion was inconsistent calf and youngstock performance, says Stephen: “Beef calves were fit for sale at inconsistent ages and intervals,” he says.
The turning point came from a discussion with Joe Murphy, of Bonanza Calf Nutrition, which manufactures Transformula, and Raymond Bready, of supplier John Thompson and Son.
Transformula is manufactured to replicate transition milk, the milk the dam produces immediately after colostrum. This is a time when the calf’s digestive system is changing fast and transition milk helps to promote this change and protect the calf health at the same time.
“Transition milk helps prevent infective and digestive upsets and, once this happens, feed volumes can be increased to increase calf growth and health,” says Joe.
On Joe’s recommendation, Julian started feeding Transformula at rates comparable to his existing milk replacer and, when he was confident that it was delivering better results, levels were increased.
Three litres are now fed twice a day from day 14, following a rapid increase from 1.5 litres twice a day at day two.
The new system helped the farm cope with disease challenges associated with carrying more stock when there was a bovine TB breakdown in the herd at the end of last year.
“Without Transformula I am certain the breakdown would have proved disastrous for stock health and farm management,” Stephen suggests.
With calves now performing consistently thanks to Transformula, Stephen says he is maximising his returns from investment in the Genus RMS breeding system.
He now has the confidence to use more sexed semen on heifers and on his elite cows, enabling him to plan future sales of elite heifers.
Transformula is also well suited to the farm’s system of rearing beef calves in individual pens and it means Stephen can now supply his buyer with a consistent supply.
Not only has Transformula had a positive impact on calf health and performance but it has taken much of the stress away from calf rearing.
“Julian and I were less stressed this winter, even with the TB breakdown. I was really pleased to see Julian enjoying rearing calves again! He takes great pride in healthy, well-grown stock and Transformula has helped him deliver this with all the calves,” says Stephen.
With a guaranteed consistency in the calf rearing unit, Stephen can factor a reduced calving age and consistent beef calf sales more accurately into his budget.
According to Raymond Bready, Transformula has been the best innovation in calf milk feeding since he started working in the industry.
Transformula produced the largest percentage increase in sales for a milk replacer product at John Thompson and Son in the financial year ending May 2019, he says.
“To have a milk replacer to deliver results consistently better than transition cows on calves from two days old is unprecedented,” says Raymond.
“Diseases spread by milk to calves over time will be eliminated. The improvement in ease of management and human wellbeing for units trying to eradicate Johne’s disease is unbelievable.”
For your nearest stockist go to bonanzacalf.ie/transformula-stockist/ or bonazacalf.ie/shine-day-stockist/