Give your calves the best start to life with GAIN Easi-Mix calf milk replacer
GAIN spoke to dairy farmer Mícheal Cronin about his dairy enterprise, calving and the optimum performance of his calves by using GAIN Easi-Mix calf milk replacer.
Mícheal Cronin runs a 93-cow spring-calving herd in Ballinaglough, Carrignavar, Co. Cork.
Mícheal explains: “Last year we milked 85 cows, but this year we have 93 due to calve. They’re mostly Holstein Friesian, but I’ve also bought in some Fleckvieh cattle. They’re very good for producing meat and milk so I said I’d see how they will perform. I also have some Norwegian Reds as well.
“The milking platform is 25ha, but we have about 60ha in total. We calve all the cows in the spring as we run a predominantly grass-based system. We’ve just started calving and all is going well so far. We would aim to have 90% calved in the first six weeks but it normally runs until the end of April into early May. Once the calves arrive fit and healthy that’s the main priority.”
Calf management and nutrition
Mícheal implements a very robust calf management system on his farm. Mícheal admits: “Once the calf is born, we try and leave them with their cow for the first 24 hours of life. If we need to intervene to give them colostrum, then we do.
“We then move the calf onto the calf shed where we continue to give them whole milk for the first seven days. They are then trained onto the automatic calf feeder and given GAIN Easi-Mix calf milk replacer.”
Mícheal believes that the right plan for nutrition is key in maximising performance and the growth potential of his calves.
Mícheal states: “Once the calves are trained on the automatic feeder, they receive 6L of GAIN Easi-Mix every day. It works out that calves are receiving about two bags each before weaning. We also give the calves ad-lib access to GAIN Startacalf for the first few weeks, moving onto GAIN Goldgrain after that.”
GAIN Startacalf contains 18% crude protein and is a highly palatable early starter muesli for young calves. It’s suitable to feed calves up until two weeks old. GAIN Startacalf helps support your calves’ immunity system against disease and to keep them healthy. Once the calves are consuming 250g/day, it is recommended to switch to GAIN Goldgrain Calf Nuts, which are an 18% crude protein wholegrain calf feed.
Calf health and performance
In terms of calf performance, Mícheal has seen a noticeable improvement in the conformation, weight and health of his calves since he started using GAIN Easi-Mix calf milk replacer.
Mícheal states: “The calves are definitely filling out much better. They’re nice, solid, round calves that are weighing more at weaning.
Introducing both the automatic feeder and GAIN Easi-Mix have been a revelation because not only can the calves get their allocation of milk when they want it, I also have the peace of mind that the calves are getting all the nutrition that they need to perform and meet their target at weaning.
Mícheal implements a robust herd health plan and vaccination programme across the herd. Mícheal explains: “Herd health is everything. Specifically on the calves, they are all vaccinated for Rotavec Corona.”
Maurice O’ Connell is Mícheal’s GAIN business manager. Mícheal is quick to highlight the strong working relationship that the pair have forged and benefits of having access to the expertise that Maurice has to offer.
Mícheal states: “I’ve been working with Maurice for some time now. He is a brilliant professional and is very honest in his advice and assessment of what he believes is the right approach to take when it comes to nutrition and herd health. He’s always there if I need to call at any time.”
Browse the GAIN Dairy Heifer Rearing Programme here .
For more information on any of the GAIN products, service or programmes, contact your local GAIN business manager, Glanbia Branch or visit: glanbiaconnect.com.