New Health Pack
Thompsons’ new calf range incorporates the all new ‘Health Pack’ which includes Zinpros’ proven protected mineral technology: Availa®Zn (a unique amino acid zinc complex) and Availa®Se (a rumen by-pass selenium) as well as Levucell yeast and Safmannan products. The combination of Availa®Zn and Availa®Se work to improve the immunity of the young calf. They prime the calf immune system for the challenges that lie ahead. Stress suppresses the immune system making the calf more vulnerable to disease, but Availa®Zn improves the epithelial barriers in the gut and respiratory systems - preventing pathogens from infecting the calf. Availa®Se boosts the antioxidant capacity - which helps enhance the immune system and speeds recovery from challenges.
This week we are on farm with our calf specialist Jemma McHugh, to find out how calf rearing is being managed and improved right now, across the province.
Joe Acheson farms just outside Armagh, calving most of the year-round and milking cows through Delaval Robots. As Joe speaks to Jemma, he emphasises the importance of keeping calf rearing simple but effective. He feeds the calves mostly himself and is very particular in ensuring they all receive 2.5L of colostrum as soon as possible after birth. Calves are removed from calving pens as soon as the cow is cleaned, which is usually within a couple of hours. Calves are removed straight from the calving pen into their own individual hutch. They are then fed transition milk for 10 days before being moved onto Thompsons’ Shine Once a day calf milk – which is fed twice a day. Joe feeds this at a rate of 2.5L twice a day mixed to a concentration of 140g/L.
Calves are also given access to Thompsons’ calf pride weaner mix – which now includes the new Health Pack - and water from the moment they are placed in a hutch, which Joe says is very important for ensuring calves come onto concentrates early and comments that it is also surprising how much water they drink. Calves are then put into group batches at around 7-8 weeks old, where they will continue to be fed 2.5L twice a day for a further couple of days in the group pen before being switched to once a day feeding, they increase concentrate consumption greatly at this point. They are weaned when they are eating at least 1.5kg concentrates each per day. From three months of age onwards calves are fed silage along with 2/2.5kgs each of Thompsons’ supreme grower blend and moved into cubicles at an out-farm. Dry cows are all fed 2kg per day of Thompsons’ excel pre calver nuts from four weeks pre calving. This helps the cow produce better quality of colostrum for the calf with the added benefit of the inclusion of the unique ‘Dry Cow Pack’, which provides minerals and salts to ensure the cow is kept in the best health.
Father and son team, Julian and Peter Bleakley, situated just outside Fivemiletown, are very passionate about rearing healthy heifer replacements that perform and achieve their first calving by 24 months. They provide a great example of calf rearing, done very well. Calves are pushed for performance from the get-go therefore it is important they get the best start and avoid any setbacks. All calves receive 4L colostrum within the first 4 hours of birth by teat bottle if they suck otherwise via tube. Peter tests all colostrum by a refractometer and only freezes colostrum of 25% Brix reading. Calves are fed their mothers transition milk for the first 3 days. Calves have access to Thompsons’ Super Gro Starter Pellets – which now includes the new Health Pack - and fresh, clean water from the start. On day four they are introduced to Thompsons’ Transformula calf milk (mixed half and half), with cow’s transition milk for a gradual change over.
From day five they are then fed Thompsons’ Transformula milk for 10 days at a rate of 3L twice a day mixed at 150g/L. By three weeks of age calves are then fed Thompsons’ Shine Once a day calf milk fed at rate of 3L twice a day up to 6 weeks old. At six weeks old they are then switched onto 3L Once a day. They are fed Once a day for two weeks and weaned around eight weeks old when they are eating at least 1.5kgs per head per day of the Super Gro starter pellets. Peter comments that calves really take off on the pellets when they are switched over onto OAD feeding. Once weaned calves are fed on a straw based system with ad lib heifer nuts. Dry cows all receive a TMR consisting of straw, silage and 150g/head/ day of Thompsons’ Availa Diamond Dairy Breeder minerals. When dry cows are at grass, they receive 2kgs Thompsons’ Excel pre calver nuts, which all helps with health of the cow and aids good quality colostrum production.
Huge thanks to Joe, Julian and Peter for sharing their experiences with us. To find out how the Thompsons’ calf range and new Health Pack can improve the performance of your calves, contact our calf specialist Jemma McHugh on; 07825 902126.
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