Maximising calf performance with once-a-day feeding on Wicklow beef unit

Calves on a Co. Wicklow beef fattening unit are weaning earlier since the feeding system was changed to a combination of high quality, once-a-day milk powder and a specialist calf muesli.

John Burke buys and fattens up to 220 calves each year and had been looking at ways of reducing his labour input – one of his biggest costs.

The Wicklow-based farmer approached Quinns of Baltinglass for advice and Tom Kane, the regional sales representative, recommended that he should try Shine Once-a-Day – a milk powder specifically formulated to be fed to calves just once every day.

Dr. Christine Cummins, Bonanza Calf Nutrition; John Burke, farmer; and Ciaran Murphy, Quinns of Baltinglass

John also switched dry feed inputs to the new Quinns’ Four Seasons calf starter muesli.

As the purchased calves are strong and are penned in groups of 10, he was able to start them on Shine Once-a-Day and muesli immediately.

The changeover to once-a-day feeding has reduced the labour requirement on the farm dramatically. Using a 170L mixer, two people could feed 160 calves on the farm every morning in just one hour.

Joe Murphy of Bonanza Calf Nutrition – the manufacturer of Shine Once-a-Day – said: “It’s imperative all calves are monitored during feeding to ensure they drink their milk allocation and clean, fresh water and calf starter ration should be available at all times.”

John, who farms in Rathmoon, Co. Wicklow added: “The easy mixing of Shine Once-a-Day made feeding and cleaning implements a simple chore.

“The results have been excellent. This is the best year I have had for rearing calves,” he said.

Calves performed well on the combination of Shine Once-a-Day and the starter muesli.

The calves manure was never loose and is always of an excellent consistency. The calves digested the ration really well and I didn’t see any undigested material in the faeces which, to me, indicates excellent utilisation of the muesli by the calf.

The results speak for themselves with healthier calves achieving higher liveweight gains. There have been no issues with scours and calves’ coat condition is healthier.

The improved liveweight gains ensured earlier weaning of calves. This also reduced labour requirements even further. Average daily liveweight gain from birth was 0.8kg/day for heifers and 1kg/day for bulls.

More information on Shine Once-a-Day

For more information on Shine Once-a-Day, contact Bonanza Calf Nutrition at: 042-9336001. Click here for more information