Shine calves hit 880g daily liveweight gain pre-weaning

Bonanza Nutrition - 2014-05-20

Heifer calves reared on contract for a Yorkshire dairy farmer are on course to achieve an enhanced milk yield in their first two lactations after hitting average daily liveweight gains (dlwg) of 880g pre-weaning on a diet of Shine milk replacer.

Andrew Morris, who rears 120 heifers a year on Shine calf milk replacer, says the product gives these animals a yield advantage. “Calves usually achieve average daily weight gains of between 550g and 600g but if you can increase this to between 800g and 900g it is going to be a bonus when they start milking.

“There is good evidence that growth rates in the early stages pay dividends all the way through.’’

Mr Morris, of Church House Farm, Danby, Yorkshire, had been milking his own herd of Jerseys until 2012. When he gave up milk production he started rearing dairy heifer replacements for local dairy farmer, Jonathan Hutchinson.

Mr Morris tried other calf milk replacers before settling on Shine. “The first product we tried didn’t give good enough performance so we changed to a higher quality high crude protein powder but the calves had a higher incidence of digestive problems,’’ he recalls. “We were introduced to Shine and we haven’t looked back.’’

According to Joe Murphy, of Bonanza Calf Milk, which manufactures Shine using skimmed milk and buttermilk, the product improves calf health and performance because crude protein and digestible true protein levels are similar. “Calves fed protein they cannot use effectively have to utilise energy to get rid of this protein, leaving them more susceptible to disease,’’ he explains. 

At Church House Farm, the Holstein Friesian calves arrive at two weeks old. Mr Morris rears them right through to point of calving.

The calves are immediately introduced to the Shine twice a day feeding system when they arrive on the farm. To achieve accelerated growth, they are first given 2 litres – 320g of milk solids – twice a day rising to 3 litres - or 480g of milk solids - from the age of three weeks. They have ad-lib access to water and Calf Vantage pellets. These pellets promote rumen development and encourage the calves to eat.

As the calves approach weaning, Shine intakes are reduced to 2 litres morning and afternoon and finally 0.5 litres (160g milk solids) in the last three days, at which point they are eating 2.5kg of calf pellets.

Mr Morris is delighted with the performance of Shine. “I wish we had known about it when we were rearing our own calves,’’ he says.

His rearing contract includes hitting weight targets at weaning, bulling and pre-calving. “We are aware that we have to keep the growth rates moving all the way through, particularly in the early stages,’’ he says.

He finds Shine easy to use and the calves feed well. “It&rsquos; a very simple system. We use a stainless steel mixer fitted with a thermometer and mix the milk powder all in one go to ensure consistency. It mixes easily and the calves appear to find it very palatable.’’

The product is supplied to Mr Morris by Thompsons of York. Commercial director Chris Lyth says the product is popular. “Farmers seldom come off it once they have used it, it is good stuff,’’ he says.

And, following recent milk price rises, it is a cost-effective alternative to cow’s milk. “Farmers find it very convenient, it is much better than carrying buckets of cow’s milk around,’’ says Mr Lyth.

The heifers at Church House Farm, which are monitored through the Genus Heifer Rearing Monitoring Programme, are inseminated at 13.5 months or when they hit 350kg.

Joe Murphy says it is important that fats used in replacers are easily digested and don’t discourage dry feed intake.

 “Throughout the Shine range, we use buttermilk containing the outer skin of the milk fat globule. This skin is removed in the churning process and we include it at twice the level found in cow’s milk. The skin or lecithin helps with the digestion of fat and has been shown to inhibit Rotavirus activity,’’ he says. 

By feeding 600g of a high milk protein, highly digestible 6 fat blend, as is the case with Shine, calves will perform at an early age and weaning can be carried out earlier, allowing more time for calf management. 

Photos for this release:

Andrew Morris is delighted with the performance of Shine