Calves weaning up to 10 days earlier on Shine Original replacer
Robert Martin and his son-in-law, Glen Crooks, run a beef enterprise near Moy, rearing 150 calves a year. These are mostly finished but some heifers are retained as suckler replacements and sold as bulling heifers.
The business buys mostly Hereford and British Blue calves from four different farms but also some Aberdeen Angus, Limousin, Simmental, and Charolais Culards too. Glen is in charge of the calf rearing. He had fed several twice-a day milk replacer formulas before giving Shine Original a go.
Although Shine’s skim-based formula is more expensive than a whey milk replacer, Glen says this cost is recovered in multiple ways. “Feeding Original gives me more time to rear the calves and, weaning on dry feed intake, means I am weaning 8-10 days sooner than before so the cost is probably no higher than using a cheaper powder.’’
The rearing system revolves around keeping calves in optimum health. When they arrive on-farm they are initially housed in single pens, to allow close observation and to get them used to drinking from a teat.
They are introduced to Shine Original and Super Gro pellets from Thompsons (Belfast). The pellets were recommended by Thompsons representative, Barry Chambers, who describes them as the best on the market for the health of young calves. Pellets, straw and water are all fed ad lib. Glen says keeping calves healthy and content is the key focus. There are solid barriers between every two calf pens and a footbath is used by anyone entering each calf house – Glen will only enter a pen if he has to, and wears surgical gloves when doing so.
There is no sharing of teats and all are boiled-washed and disinfected after each feed. All calves are vaccinated and receive a multi vitamin injection while they are in the individual pens. Glen regularly inspects each calf pen and the calf’s back end for any sign of looseness.