Better Calf Performance through quality nutrition

Better Calf Performance through quality nutrition

John Cullen from Ballindoyle in Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow milks 180 commercial Holstein Friesan dairy cows on a 111 hectares. The cows have walking access to 220 acres as the farm is fragmented.

Calf Milk Replacer

On John’s farm, each newborn calf receives 3 litres of colostrum at birth via stomach tube. John states that, “it’s vital to get as much colostrum into the newborn calf in the first couple of hours after birth to maximise the calf’s resistance. The calves receive whole milk for just one day and are then switched to GAIN Easi-Mix calf milk replacer.”

This will be John’s second year using GAIN Easi-Mix as he has already noticed a massive improvement. John states, “Compared to feeding whole milk, GAIN Easi-Mix milk replacer is much easier to manage and more consistent, the calves are thriving and their performance has very noticeably picked up. An automatic calf feeding system is in place on the farm which dramatically reduces the workload.”

High Protein, High Performance

John states, “GAIN Easi-Mix is a 25%, high specification calf milk replacer, which is whey protein based, the same as infant formula. It has resulted in better calf performance from consistent nutrition and earlier weaning as the calves eat concentrate earlier. There is less scour as the calf milk replacer is acidified to improve digestion. It has also improved disease resistance as it is fortified with all the essential elements that the calf needs.”

GAIN Animal Nutrition, Business Manager, Gary Johnson adds “GAIN Easi-Mix has the highest nutritional and health attributes, thereby delivering the maximum performance in calves during the critical birth to weaning period. Calves can be fed Easi-Mix from day one. It contains Digest VO® and BioMos® which helps to support immune function and helps against Coccidosis and Crytosporidium. Gardion® is added to aid immunity and performance. Yogurt Powder directly adds lactic acid bacteria to the calf’s stomach. This lactic acidic bacteria reduces pH in the abomasum, making it a more hostile environment for scour causing bacteria such as E-Coli to thrive.”

Quality Nutrition

GAIN Startacalf concentrates are introduced after week one and then are followed by GAIN Goldgrain ad- lib until weaning. After weaning they then have access to 2kgs of GAIN Wean & Build until they hit a weight target of 330kgs. Gary states that “GAIN calf feeds contain Yea-Sacc® live yeast from Alltech which supports digestion and calf performance. They are high in Vitamin E and contain Minplex (Bioplex® copper, zinc, manganese & Selplex® selenium) protected minerals which improve mineral availability.”

Calf Health & Weight Targets

John rears all his own replacement heifers. The dams are vaccinated for a number of vaccinations: Salmonella, Rotacorona, IBR, Bovipast and Leptospirosis. If Crypto becomes an issue, John uses Halocur. In terms of ventilation, John would like to improve ventilation in the calf house to minimise the occurrence of respiratory issues. All calves are bedded daily with straw and are reared in groups depending on age.

Historically John uses his own stock bulls. This year he has decided to AI 100% of the herd. Each heifer should reach 330kg by time of first service.

John adds that “one of the benefits of using the GAIN product range is the access to the advice from his GAIN Business Manager. Gary provides first class service in terms of the advice that he offers on nutrition, health and performance. If I notice any issues I can pick up the phone at any time and contact Gary.”

Through continuous monitoring by John and Gary, the herd continues to perform strongly. Performance is assessed and adjusted where necessary. This ensures that each heifer is gaining consistent weight per day and that each heifer is ready for service at a similar time. John feels that it allows you to maximise the inputs that you are giving the herd. It ultimately saves money.