Farmers: Are you ready to unlock your farm’s potential?

As an industry we face both tremendous challenges, and tremendous opportunities. Businesses and farms that adapt to different environments will not only survive, but will thrive long into the future.

A new campaign called “The Unlock Challenge” has just been launched by animal nutrition company Specialist Nutrition. The initiative aims to encourage farmers to examine their farm to see what small changes can be made to unlock their farm potential.

The first series of the campaign focuses on the management of dairy animals, and from the farm of Matt and his son Patrick Larkin in Co. Wexford, Specialist Nutrition will provide guidance on everything from calf rearing to buffer feeding.

Each challenge will be shared through a video series over the next few months on Specialist Nutrition’s social media channels, or farmers can sign-up to its mailing and SMS list  by clicking here

Here we take a sneak peak at just two of the topics covered in the series.

“The Calf Rearing” challenge

Unlocking animal potential starts right at the beginning – good attention to detail in calf rearing is crucial. Epigenetics shows that the first *60 days of a calf’s life can permanently and irreversibly effect that animals’ lifetime performance (*Trouw, Lifestart Programme).

Speaking about their own experience Matt and Patrick Larkin, who transitioned from beef to dairy in 2015 said: “We’ve learnt a lot in the last few years with regards to calf rearing.

It was something we didn’t do right at the start, but we know what to do now. It starts the minute the calf hits the ground.

Explaining further Michael Davey, Dairy Nutrition Manager with Specialist Nutrition, said: “The approach to calf rearing here on the Larkin’s farm, from colostrum and their feeding regime, right through to their weaning process, has reaped rewards.

“We can really see the positive impact such attention to detail has had on the performance, health and fertility of their cows.”

The “Managing Buffer Feeding” challenge

Specialist Nutrition advocates a farm-by-farm approach when it comes to buffer feeding, as no “one-size fits all” approach can enable a farm to reach its full potential in this respect.

According to the company the decision to buffer feed comes down to three considerations:

  1. Grass intake needs to meet the cow’s energy requirements to support maintenance and production. If not, the shortfall must be subsidised.
  2. Buffer feeding can provide extra control of farm covers, should this be required.
  3. More than nuts in the parlor, buffer feeding enhances a farmers control over rumen function.

It’s important for a farm’s long-term sustainability that resilience and flexibility are built into the system; buffer feeding can help achieve that.

Speaking about their experience with buffer feeding the Larkin’s said: “By buffer feeding we’ve had more control over our grass and more control over how many litres we get back from the cow.

“It’s much easier for us to keep the cow’s production level going, than if they dip it’s impossible to get them back up. Buffer feeding has allowed us to manage this.”

More information

Specialist Nutrition is a leader in the management of moist and liquid feed co-product derived from the human food and drinks industry. While providing expert nutritional and technical advice on farm, Specialist Nutrition’s focus is to unlock farm potential.

Not content to settle with the norm, it challenges the status quo; and with its latest campaign called “The Unlock Challenge” it is inviting farmers around the country to do the same in order to uncover what works for their farm.

Farmers can follow the campaign by finding Specialist Nutrition on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @SpecialistNutri.

Specialist Nutrition is also inviting farmers to enter its competition to win a trip to the AgriScot Show in the UK, along with lots of monthly prizes to be won. Simply visit: to enter.

Or just click here