Labour saving gain of Shine Once-a-Day in Welsh calf rearing business

Shine Milk Powder - 2015-10-10

A livestock farming partnership has found the solution to labour challenges associated with running a mixed enterprise and working off-farm.

Father and son Dennis and Jonny Sockett rear beef bull calves at Moeliwrch, a 370-acre Welsh upland farm, as well as running a flock of 1100 ewes and a silage contracting business.

Shine Once-a-Day milk replacer has provided the perfect answer for delivering high quality nutrition without the labour constraints of feeding twice daily.

“When I’m flat out on the silage I can’t be at home for the evening feed. Shine gives me that flexibility,’’ says Jonny. “The calves thrive on it too, there is no post-weaning growth check.’’

The Socketts farm 500 acres near the border between Powys and Shropshire, land that rises from 600 feet to 1600 feet.

They turned to beef calf rearing after a major TB breakdown made them rethink the structure of their enterprise. They had dispersed their suckler herd and were fattening cattle but they needed an enterprise that offered a quicker turnaround to boost their cashflow.

Rearing bull beef calves, suggested by their consultant, Adrian Caine, of P and L Consulting, provided that solution.

Dennis and Jonny now rear Holstein Friesian bull calves to supply Buitelaar International. Calves arrive at Moeliwrch when they are three or four weeks old and are slaughtered at 11 months, at a deadweight target of 225kg.

They are immediately introduced to the Shine Once-a-Day system, at a rate of 700g/day, mixed with water to produce three litres. If a calf weighs less than 60kg, or is under 30 days old, this volume is split between two feeds for the first two days to allow the calves to gradually adjust to the system. Calves have free access to a high quality pellet supplied by Maelor Feeds, and barley straw.

When daily intakes of the calf pellet hit 1.5kg, usually when the calves are eight weeks old, they are step-weaned to allow a gradual change in their diet – intake of Shine is halved for four days. After weaning, the calves are given a drench to protect them from coccidiosis and reared on a diet of calf pellets mixed with a blend, fed ad lib, and they have free access to straw.

Jonny, who is in charge of the calf rearing, says Shine Once-a-Day milk replacer is the perfect fit for the system.

“Margins are tight in beef, Shine allows us to make savings on labour and the calves do well on it. They are putting on 1kg a day and they don’t have a check at weaning. It is doing a good job. The powder mixes very easily, the calves really like it and I have no problem getting them onto it.

“The calves are really content. If they were standing at the gate bawling their heads off waiting for their next feed, they wouldn’t be putting on weight.’’

Even Dennis, who had been used to a twice-a-day feeding system, admits he is a convert. “I come from that generation where calves were always fed twice a day so I was initially apprehensive about Shine but it is doing an excellent job, it really is.’’

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Photos for this release:

Dennis Sockett is pictured with Katie Hall of Bonanza Calf Nutrition, manufacturer of Shine Once-a-Day milk powder