A farm walk is talking place today on farm of Jim and Teresa White of Clonlahy, Cloneen, Clonmel, Co Tipperary, National Heifer Rearing Competition winners.

They welcomed the many attendees and noted they were fortunate to farm in an area with such a long tradition in the dairy sector.

“Our location affords us with established services which are vital to the efficiency of daily farming life. Dairy farmers are continually changing and in today’s challenging environment everybody has their own idea of where they are going and adapting accordingly,” they said in their opening statement.

“A good start is vital for any change or journey. Heifer rearing on our farm, to that end involves processes such as measurement and bench marking against others to ensure healthy in-calf heifers, calving down at the correct age and weight.”

With regards to the National Heifer Rearing Competition 2013, the Whites said their success was in no small part attributable to independent advice channelled  from discussion groups and programmes they have been involved in. “Its value to us cannot be underestimated.”

Volac Ireland commercial directorPat Cahill congratulated the Whites on winning the National Heifer Rearing Competition 2013.

“The Whites have received a German manufactured state-of-the-art Urban Computerised Calf Feeding System. The prize is in recognition of the planning, hard work and commitment of Jim and Teresa in developing the replacement heifer enterprise and indeed their whole dairy farm into the progressive, profitable and efficient business that it is today,” he said.

The National Heifer Rearing Competition was run over the Spring of 2013. Recognising that excellence in heifer replacement rearing is the foundation of the future potential in any dairy herd, the competition looked to reward farmers who have already adopted rearing strategies to maximise a heifer’s lifetime performance. Its overall objective was to encourage farmers to pay close attention to good calf husbandry and heifer management from birth through to calving.

The National Heifer Rearing Competition has a Prize Fund of €20,000 with a First Prize of a Volac Urban GMBH Computerised Calf Feeder with four Regional Prizes of 1 tonne of Volac Easymix Calf Milk Replacer.

According to Teagasc, the response and standard of entries this year across the country was excellent and the judges would like to thank and congratulate all participants.

Regional Winners were:
South West / West Declan Murphy, Newpark, Effin, Co Limerick
South John Walsh, Ahomonister, Timoleague, Co Cork
North East/Midlands Kevin Heavin, Shannon Harbour, Birr, Co Offaly
Northern Ireland Denis and Mark Blelock, Crumlin, Co Armagh

The key messages of the Tipperary farm walk today are:

1. Feed at least three litres of colostrum as soon as possible after birth to ensure a trouble-free calf rearing period.
2. It is possible to successfully rear heifers to calf at two years and to maximise their lifetime performance by ensuring that heifers reach target heifer weight for age.
3. Good husbandry and attention to detail will minimise losses, health problems and rearing costs.
4. Attention to detail in heifer rearing will contribute to the overall profitability of the dairy enterprise.

Image: Generic Friesian weanling heifers/O’Gorman Photography