A total of 195 calves have been weaned off milk on the ABP Demo Farm as of Wednesday, April 1, and while the calf-rearing season is not over yet, “the calf rearing has gone relatively well so far on the farm this spring”, according to the ABP Food Group Advantage Beef Programme Farm liaison officer Sean Maher.

He said: “The first 80 calves we reared were split in two groups and were fed two different types of milk powders. These were fed twice a day (TAD) as a trial.

“The ABP Demo farm has been feeding calves once a day (OAD) for a number of years, now but it’s always good to keep your options open.”

The table below outlines the performance results from the two groups of calves that were fed TAD on the farm this spring:

Powder A
(Fed TAD)
Powder B
(Fed TAD)
Arrival weight58kg54kg
Weaning weight84kg86kg
Average daily gain (ADG)0.61kg/day0.62kg/day
Days on milk41 days50 days
Total kg of milk powder consumed31.2kg32.9kg

Commenting on the results, Maher said: “The two powders compare quite well with similar average daily gains (ADG) and weaning weights.

“The amount of powder used is higher than what we normally use on the farm and we would have expected higher ADGs in return.”

The remainder of the calves that have been weaned to-date were fed OAD, which is the standard practice on the farm.

The table below outlines the performance results from the group of calves that have been weaned and were fed OAD on the farm this spring:

OAD feeding
Arrival weight62kg
Weaning weight88kg
Average daily gain (ADG)0.6kg/day
Days on milk42 days
Total kg of milk powder consumed:24.4kg

Sean Maher said that from the results of the trial conducted on the farm this spring, “we’re very happy with the calf performance from the OAD feeding system once again”.

He emphasised that when calves are being fed OAD in the mornings, it is essential to monitor calves closely in the evenings also and identify high-temperature calves or dull calves and treat these in a timely manner.

“All calves have now received three pneumonia vaccines (one intranasal and two pasturella) two clostridial disease shots and some have been vaccinated for ringworm, as a trial.”

The table below outlines calf performance by breed based on all the calves weaned off milk on the ABP Demo Farm to-date this spring.

AngusBelgian BlueFriesianHerefordLimousin
Arrival weight59kg60kg59kg61kg61kg
Weaning weight87kg86kg83kg88kg84kg
Average daily gain (ADG)0.61kg/day0.62kg/day0.58kg/day0.63kg0.53

The Advantage Beef Programme farm liaison officer added: “There will be another 100 calves weaned off milk in the coming week – all going well.

“This will leave us with the final 100 calves being fed milk for another few weeks.

“This will significantly reduce the workload and allow us turn our attention to turning out calves to grass. The demo farm has no calves turned out to grass as of yet,” he added.

“The wet and unsettled weather has the potential to undo all our good work in the rearing process this year.”

He explained that once the weather picks up, they plan to let calves out by day and house them by night.

“This will allow us to limit the amount of grass in their diet and smoothen their transition to grass.”