''Our vet Lottie from Molecare Farm Vets suggested we use it to aid recovery and the results were exceptional. We now rarely see any illness and if they do get ill, they don’t lose much daily liveweight gain (DLWG) due to their quick recovery''
Secret ingredient to boosting calf health
Dairy farmer Harry Pinsent believes a robust calf management plan and feeding a premium milk powder are the keys to successful calf rearing on his South Devon farm.
Mr Pinsent of Higher Ludbrook Farm, Ivybridge, block calves 330 Jersey Friesian cross cows in 12 weeks, with 290-300 arriving in the first six weeks. Such a tight concentration means robust management protocols for the calves are vital. Since calving started in February, Mr Pinsent has had no mortalities in his dairy heifers. He normally aims for less than 2%. He said: “There are lots of factors influencing calf rearing success and the quality of the milk powder we are using is definitely a key part of it.” Mr Pinsent feeds his heifer calves OmniSmart calf milk replacer, a 26% protein, high-performance, whey-based milk powder containing 12.5% skimmed milk powder and OmniGen-AF. It contains a patented blend of biologically active nutrients that positively affects the immune system and supports the body’s response to stress and health events. Mr Pinsent began feeding the product three years ago when he had rotavirus issues in his calves. “Our vet Lottie from Molecare Farm Vets suggested we use it to aid recovery and the results were exceptional. We now rarely see any illness and if they do get ill, they don’t lose much daily liveweight gain (DLWG) due to their quick recovery,” he explained.
They are fed two feeds of pure colostrum in the first 24 hours, followed by two days of mobbed colostrum, which is collected from different heifers. Then OmniSmart is fed to the heifers from three days old. Calves are housed in a large shed containing ten pens and bedded on straw. They are fed three litres of milk twice daily using a handheld 13 teat feeder until they are weaned at nine to ten weeks old. Milk is mixed at 150g for every litre of water, which is warmed to 38-40°C. Calves are also provided with Ambition Calf + Omnigen-AF pellets, a unique 18% protein feed designed for high performance heifers, to continue to provide the required amounts of Omnigen-AF as they are weaned on to concentrate.Mr Pinsent aims for calves to double their birthweight during this time, weaning between 80-100kg and averaging a DLWG of 1.2kg a day. He has noticed calves fed OmniSmart eat more cake than bull calves fed a standard calf milk replacer, an advantage of the enhanced rumen development with the longer term benefits of heifer performance. “Our heifers tend to wean eight to ten days earlier due to their better DLWG,” he added. He believes it is worth investing in OmniSmart. He said: “Our dairy heifers are our premium crop and are the herd’s future. Because we are block calving, it opens us up to illness due to the sheer number of calves on the farm at once. OmniSmart gives us peace of mind, and if we can continue growing heifers well it means they calve at two years old.” Mr Pinsent manages the calves to ensure they remain healthy and grow well. He has split his team so some are dedicated to looking after the calves and cows. He said: “Only myself and one other look after the calves and we have a very keen eye for detail. “Biosecurity is paramount and we make sure we have separate clothes when going between sheds, all the feeding equipment is cleaned twice a day and we make sure everything is as biosecure as possible to reduce the disease pressure between groups of calves.” Vet Lottie Reid said feeding a good quality milk replacer is just part of the solution to successful calf rearing.“It’s important to remember the 5Q’s of colostrum management - Quantity, Quality, Quickly, sQueaky clean and Quietly. Then when you are feeding a milk replacer, it’s essential to remember cleanliness and that it’s fed at the same concentration and temperature. “Harry and his team are very proactive with calf management and it’s important to remember a product like OmniSmart isn’t a sticking plaster to cover bad management. It’s a product that should be used to help push calves to their optimum.”
“It’s important to remember the 5Q’s of colostrum management - Quantity, Quality, Quickly, sQueaky clean and Quietly.
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