Give your calves the best start with TopStart

TopStart quality-assured calf milk replacer, specifically designed and manufactured for Irish calves, was only launched last year.

However, it has already been used to successfully rear over 20,000 calves across Ireland under the Co-op Source brand.


Successful rearing of calves requires proper management from day one. Your newborn calves are born without immunity to disease and colostrum (the first milk your cows produce after they calve) contains high levels of antibodies, which build immunity in your calves.

Your calves’ ability to absorb antibodies decreases dramatically within hours of birth and is virtually zero after 24 hours.

Given this, farmers should follow Animal Health Ireland’s (AHI’s) three-step recommendation when it comes to feeding colostrum.

AHI’s three-step recommendation:
  • Use colostrum from the first milking for the first feed;
  • Give colostrum within two hours of the calf’s birth;
  • Provide the calf with at least 3L of colostrum.

Early nutrition

Successful rearing of your calves requires unrestricted access to clean water (in addition to milk / milk replacer) and fresh, palatable starter concentrate (preferably coarse).

It is also advisable to have fresh, good-quality straw available. Hay is not ideal, as it can reduce starter concentrate intake.

Why use milk replacer?

A quality milk replacer, like TopStart, offers a number of advantages over whole milk.

Key advantages:
  • Performance: Studies show that replacement heifer calves with higher growth rates in the first eight-to-10 weeks of life have significantly improved first-lactation yields and fertility performance;
  • Reduced risk of scour: Milk replacer is consistent and acidified to improve digestion and decrease the risk of scour;
  • Earlier weaning: Whole milk contains very high levels of fat and energy. This delays solid feed intake, rumen development and ultimately weaning;
  • Health: Feeding antibiotic milk greatly increases the risk of development of resistant organisms (at a minimum, do not feed to heifers). Feeding whole milk greatly increases the risk of spreading disease such as Johne’s disease.

Economics of milk replacer

Even at cash neutral, the above reasons more than justify the feeding of a quality milk replacer, like TopStart, over whole milk. However, at present, TopStart saves you money by rearing your calves at a lower cost than whole milk.

Example: Whole milk (35c/L) – TopStart (27c/L based at a concentration of 12.5%) = 8c/L saving.

If it takes 250L of whole milk to rear a calf, the potential saving of using TopStart instead of whole milk is €20/calf.


Features and benefits of TopStart

TopStart milk replacer has a top specification. It contains 24% protein and a comprehensive package of vitamins and minerals.

Derived from more than 10 years of extensive research, NeoTec4™ is also present in TopStart. NeoTec4™ is a specific blend of essential fatty acids (butyric acid, medium chain fatty acids and linolenic acid) to support the immune system and promote optimal body weight gain, structural growth and feed efficiency.

NeoTec4™ works in four ways

TopStart has a fixed formulation (based on meeting quality standards) to produce consistent results at farm level. It’s also an easy-mixing powder that is suitable for ad-lib, computerised and once-a-day feeding systems.

More information

TopStart is available now in over 75 stores belonging to 18 Co-op Source members.