Pics: Behind the scenes on one of Ireland’s largest calf farms

The Wicklow Calf Company has grown to be one of the largest calf farms in Ireland.

The family run business has been in operation for over 45 years and today the farm, owned by the Scallan family, opened its gates to give farmers a behind the scenes look at the system.

Seamus Scallan and his wife Joyce currently run the business alongside their daughter Elizabeth and sons David and James in Mooreshill, Arklow, Co. Wicklow.

Seamus Scallan speaking at the Wicklow Calf Company open day
Seamus Scallan speaking at the Wicklow Calf Company open day

During peak times of the year, Seamus explained that the farm can house in the region of 1,500-1,600 calves each week.

These calves are compromised of Holstein Friesians, the best of which are sold on the home market, and coloured calves such as Herefords, Angus and Belgian Blues.

Some of the Holstein Friesian bull calves on show at the open day
Some of the Holstein Friesian bull calves on show at the open day

The importance of the home market

Speaking to the hundreds of farmers in attendance, Seamus discussed the logistics on which the business operates.

He said that a new batch of calves are brought onto the farm every Friday and are moved off the farm before the following week’s delivery. All of the calves are bought directly from farmers.

This, he said, keeps the operation moving and ensures that they can supply farmers with the healthiest and freshest calves possible.

Farmers keen to get a closer look at the Wicklow Calf Company's calves
Farmers keen to get a closer look at the Wicklow Calf Company’s calves

Any calves which fail to sell during the week are moved to a feeding area on the farm, he said, where they are either finished or sold as reared calves at a later date.

Seamus also highlighted the importance of the home market to the business and he said farmers can arrange to call to the farm to pick out the calves they want.

Along with placing an emphasis on the quality and health, he said it is the only business to buy all of its calves directly from farmers.
Calves which fail to sell are finished on farm
Calves which fail to sell are finished on farm

Exports

The Wicklow Calf Company also exports calves and weanlings to a number of countries, including Spain, Holland, Italy and the UK.

Holstein Friesians make up the majority of calves shipped to both Spain and Holland, but Seamus said that this doesn’t lessen the quality of calves available to Irish buyers.

Irish buyers have first preference on all of the Holstein Friesian bull calves, he said, and the remainder are sorted on the basis of market requirements and are shipped to the continental markets.

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A one-stop shop for calf rearing

Over the years, the company has diversified to become a one-stop shop for all calf rearing needs.

Elizabeth Scallan explained that the business offers all the necessary equipment farmers require to make calf rearing a successful enterprise on their farms.

Along with supplying calves, the business sells milk replacers, mobile calf milk mixers and pellet and teat feeders.

The Wicklow Calf Company supplies farmers with a range of products
The Wicklow Calf Company supplies farmers with a range of products

Presently, the business can offer farmers three types of milk replacers, including Super Milk (26% protein and 18% fat), Excellence Milk (23% protein and 19% fat) and Pro Milk (21% protein and 17% fat).

All of the milk replacers supplied are manufactured in the Netherlands by Denkavit, a company involved in the rearing of over 500,000 calves on an annual basis.

Denkavit is the second largest calf rearer in Europe and the world.

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