Rearing 140 calves from multiple sources is no mean feat. However, so far this spring things have mostly been going to plan.

John is very much a man for the detail and is quick to spot any calf that seems under the weather. A thermometer is kept in the top pocket at all times and he isn’t afraid to use it.

Arrival pens for calves.

Saying this, there was one calf lost last week. The calf had been seen to be off form, had been treated by John and when it wasn’t responding to treatment the vet was called. Despite this, the calf died a short time later.

Belgian Blue calf.

A post-mortem was carried out on the calf to determine the cause of death. It is suspected peritonitis, which is an infection or inflammation of the inside lining of the abdomen of the calf.

Hereford calves in larger group pens.

Local vet Tom Julian of O’Connor Julian veterinary practice suggested that it may have been caused by the calf not being offered concentrate feed on the farm of birth and then the calf failed to adjust to the change in diet on arrival to the Thrive farm.

Fresh water and concentrates are available at all times.

All calves are being fed three litres of milk replacer morning and evening. Fresh water is always on offer and recently a second source of water has been offered to calf pens. In this case, even if one water source becomes soiled, there is still fresh water available at all times.

Fresh concentrate is also always on offer to every batch of calves. It is important to offer a small amount of highly palatable crunch to small calves – keeping it fresh all the time. Right from day one you can see calves starting to nibble a small amount and at this stage the older calves are starting to increase their intake significantly.

Older calves are increasing concentrate intake.

Calves are housed in the same batch as they arrived in for the first couple of weeks until they are settled and vaccinated. They then move to bigger batches where they remain until turnout.

Larger group pens for older calves. This pen has access to a small paddock by day.

A batch of 36 of the oldest calves now have access to a small paddock at the side of one of the sheds. They can come in and out as they please. The plan is to shut them out by day and bring them back in for once-a-day feeding in the evening once they are around six weeks old.