Milk replacer delivers flexibility to calf rearing system

Shine Milk Powder - 2012-12-03

When mother-of-three Kiki Willcocks took on the calf rearing responsibilities at Tregleath Farm she sought a flexible system of feeding that would fit in with the school run.

Kiki, who runs a 300-cow herd near Bodmin with her husband, James, found the solution in Shine Once-A-Day milk replacer.

“It suits our system well. I feed the calves after I have taken the children to school in the mornings and there is no need for an afternoon feed,’’ she explained.

The flexibility of the product was important but it was essential that it performed too. Kiki reports that calf performance has been excellent. “We don’t weigh the calves, we just have to look at them to see they are growing well,’’ she says.

“We are getting far fewer cases of scours and the calves are at the right size for calving down at two years.’’

The once-a-day feeding system works well if calves are sick and need to be treated. “I can treat any sick calves in the afternoon because they have got some volume left in their stomach. It has definitely saved the lives of some calves,’’ says Kiki.

Half the crossbred herd at Tregleath Farm calves in the spring while the other half block calves in the autumn. The herd had been calving all the year round until two years ago with the calves being fed wholemilk. “Milk powder definitely works better in block calving systems like our,’’ says James.

Newborn calves get eight feeds of colostrum and are moved to a purpose-built calf shed at five days old. They are reared here for eight weeks in groups of eight.

Intakes for the first three weeks are 600g of Shine Once-A-Day replacer mixed with 3 litres of water. After that intakes are increased to 3.5 litres for three weeks. The calves are gradually weaned over a two-week period.

From day five the calves have access to ad-lib concentrates, fresh water and straw. Kiki believes this is key to achieving good growth rates. “The calves are more consistent at eating solids and they love the straw, it really does get the rumen developing, and as a result I think the calves are bigger at weaning,’’ she says.  “We could wean at seven weeks but I think the calves are better animals for having been weaned slowly.’’

Both heifer and beef calves are reared for three weeks and every calf gets Shine Once A Day. The beef animals are sold at three weeks.

Kiki rears 150 heifers a year on Shine. She is delighted with the product. “The powder is easy to mix. The calves are more satisfied, they don’t really get up after feeding but when they are looking for something they eat the concentrates.

“We want to rear as healthy a calf as possible, calves that stay in the herd and have good calvings. We are achieving that with Shine.’’

Photos for this release:

The performance of calves reared on Shine Once-A-Day milk replacer has been excellent, say James and Kiki Willcocks.