Thompsons’ James Black and Denise Rafferty joined forces with Shines’
Joe Murphy to take responsibility for ensuring that no one left the workshop
without understanding the importance of getting calf rearing right, before the
calf is even born. They discussed how eight weeks pre-calving the cow’s diet
must be adjusted accordingly to ensure that the required vitamins, minerals and
nutrients reach the cow and calf to put them in the best health for calving. Joe
followed this up by saying that every farmer there was ‘duty bound’ to feed the
calf colostrum as over 60% of calves that suckle don’t get sufficient immunity.
Professor Sandra Godden from the University of Minnesota was keen to
share her views on calf housing and the huge impact this has on the health and
development of the calf. Sandra stressed the dangers of cross contamination,
both between calves and from housing, with the need to give calf houses a break
or the ‘cycle of disease’ will never be broken. Sandra also discussed group
sizes, bedding, drainage and ventilation. With such knowledge and experience,
Sandra’s opinions on how best to house calves, would have made everyone
question their own practices.
It was the job of Thompsons’ Richard Moore and both CAFREs’ Jason
McFerran and Martin to identify the importance of knowing the growth and weight
of heifers to ensure that they are ready for calving at 24 months. Richard used
a blueprint - that had been established several years ago in conjunction with
AFBI – to show how the desired growth rate of 0.8kg per day was achievable,
even if it was more difficult in April/May born calves. By comparing how good
the human eye is at ‘guessing’ the weight of heifers, with weigh-tapes and digital
weigh-scales, Richard showed that it is possible and vital to know how heifers
are progressing. Jason and Martin put the figures behind the cost of rearing
heifers, displaying the huge range in costs associated with this side of the
A well-known figure in the dairy industry and popular speaker at
Thompsons’ events, everyone was looking forward to hearing what Dr. Roger
Blowey had planned for his stop. Using the visual aids of calf tracheas,
stomachs and lungs, Roger was able to clearly show what impact the practical
aspects of calf rearing have on the physiology of the calf. Giving numerous
examples, that will stay in everyone’s memory until the next time they feed
their calves milk, Roger made sure his discussion was full of questions, learning
A hugely successful and enjoyable three days was had by everyone that attended Thompsons’ Your Calf, Your Future workshops. With huge support from the host farmers, large numbers were facilitated at all three days, ensuring that no one missed out on hearing from such world class speakers.But don’t worry if you didn’t make it to one of the days, or maybe you just want to watch it again, as all the presentations will be available to view on-line. Keep an eye on our facebook page @thompsonsfeedinginnovation and follow the link. Or for further details contact Thompsons; 028 9035 1321.
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