Following on from three successful calf meetings held in October, in partnership with Shine Calf Milk and the Technical Team from Thompsons, it was noted that there was a great interest in the subject and producers were keen to keep learning about calf rearing ‘best practice’. The location of the previous meetings had meant that producers from the Ards Peninsula area struggled logistically to get to the meetings, so the decision was made to hold a meeting in the Strangford Arms in Newtownards. The format of the night was to take producers right through from the dry cow to - the end result of - a healthy calf that will grow into a valuable member of the milking herd. Thompsons’ dairy specialist, Mary-Jane Robinson took the lead on dry cow nutrition, body condition and dry cow management.
This was followed by Shines’ Dr Amanda Dunn, who completed her PhD at AFBI Hillsborough on ‘Colostrum Quality and development of immunity in dairy calves”. Amanda explained the vaccination protocol that was needed to protect both the dry cow and the growing calf. Thompsons’ resident calf specialist, Jemma McHugh then went on to profile the Shine calf milk replacers Range, along with the importance of rumen development. The meeting concluded with Jubilee Vets’ farm director, Gareth Bell, emphasising the need to take on board everything that the three previous speakers had spoken about. He gave the audience practical examples of how to make sure that the housing for the calves was clean, how to keep it clean, the need to batch calves and to learn from others. He used pig farmers as an example and how they worked on an ‘all in, all out’ approach, which ensured that calves that were not thriving should not be staying in pens when the rest had moved on to the next stage. He also spoke of the need to rear the calves in calf houses and not in housing where older animals were kept.
He concluded by challenging the audience to look at themselves and question whether or not the right people were doing the calf rearing on their unit, to ensure the successful future of the milking herd. The meeting was finished off with a lovely supper provided by Paul and his staff at the Strangford Arms Hotel. If you would like more information on the content of the meetings or would like to improve calf performance contact Jemma McHugh on; 07825 902126.
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