Calf-rearing events drive home one key message to attendees

A series of calf-rearing events took place recently in conjunction with Kerry Agribusiness and Cargill Animal Nutrition – who outlined that the key message was the importance of getting the basics right.

The meetings took place on Tuesday, January 15, at the Charleville Park Hotel, Co. Cork, and on Wednesday, January 16 at the Listowel Arms Hotel, Co. Kerry.

There were over 160 people in attendance on each night.

Cargill calf and heifer specialist, Bianca Theeruth, discussed the importance of understanding the optimal amount of milk powder to influence growth without affecting rumen development.

One of the key elements to Theeruth’s presentation was the preparation of the dry cow prior to calving.

This, according to Theeruth, ensures that a quality calf is born and that quality colostrum is available for the calf.

Post calving, the importance of ensuring that calves have sufficient access to water to supplement their dry food intake was also highlighted.

Vet and head of technical with Munster Cattle Breeding, Dr. Doreen Corridan, spoke about the importance of having the correct environment for the calves. This involves minimising draughts, while still maintaining a high standard of ventilation.

Dr. Corridan explained the importance of measuring the colostrum through the use of a refractometer, which can ensure clean, quality colostrum is given to the calf.

It was also noted that considering the increase in the presence of Johne’s Disease – in order to reduce the risk – milk replacer should be fed to calves instead of whole milk.

Dairy and beef farmer, Steven McAlister participated in an informative questions and answers session to conclude the event on both evenings.

He discussed his system for treating his 300-cow herd in the transition prior to calving and how he ensures that calves receive adequate colostrum after birth.

Steven also spoke about how he is a big advocate of using a skim milk replacer also.