Long Lane farm is situated just outside Shepton Mallet in the heart of Somerset in the southeast of England.

It’s run by the Buitelaar group and all calves reared on the unit are processed through the Buitelaar group.

The farm was purchased in 2018 by the Buitelaar group, which rears 36,000 calves a year across the UK and Ireland in 14 specialised rearing units.

The group also manages 150,000 cattle movements from rearing farms to finishing farms and from finishing farms to slaughter houses, managing the complete supply chain along the way.

Calves are purchased from dairy farms and are graded at collection centres based on weight and age.

Long Lane farm manager James Taylor said: “This is one of the most important jobs that we do on the farm. We batch all our calves together based on breed, weight and age.

"This avoids any bullying issues within groups and we keep the group size to 10 calves in each pen until they are weaned.”

Calves come on to Long Lane farm at around four weeks of age at a minimum weight of 60kg.

Many of the calves have been bought on contract. The Buitelaar group will be buying all calves from certain dairy farms at fixed prices based on the breed and genetics of the calves.

Settling in

Once the calves are on the farm, they receive the first shot of a two shot pneumonia programme and are allowed settle into their new surroundings. Calves are housed in specially designed Buitelaar high health units.

Calves are trained to drink via troughs in front of pens with no teat feeders used on the farm.

Buitelaar CEO Adam Buitelaar said: “We have made a lot of changes to our calf sheds over the years and we are really happy with the performance of our calves.”

Each shed can house 160 calves - 80 on each side - and the 160 calves can be fed by one person in seven minutes using a motorised milk feeder.

Increasing liveweight gain and decreasing antibiotic usage are the two main aims for calves while in the unit.

Calves consume 25.1kg of milk replacer while in the rearing shed on a 35-day milk programme.

Calves are built up to 3kg of meal, at which point they move to the weaned shed at 140kg. From here, they move out to finishing farms for the next stage in the supply chain.


The majority of calves on Long Lane farm are British Blue-cross dairy calves.

Belgian Blue calves on the Buitelaar calf rearing farm.

The Buitelaar group has been working with dairy farmers on the genetics being used on dairy farms to increase the genetic potential of calves coming from the British dairy herd.

The group puts a limit of 600kg on the liveweight of dairy cows which they will buy calves from.

Health and health management is a huge part of what happens on Long Lane farm and the group has pioneered an IGG test, which can test calves for level of immunity attained from colostrum in a matter of minutes.

The test, which is available to all farmers in both Ireland and the UK, costs around €18 to €20/head and can determine IGG status in 10 minutes.

Buitelaaar Agriculture in conjunction with Bimdedia have developed a lateral flow test on calves.

Adam said: “We can monitor calves coming into the unit, with all calves now being tested at the collection centre.

"In the future, we will be potentially able to offer a premium where calves have attained a high level of immunity and avoid calves with very low immunity.”

The level of detail put into managing the farm is very impressive, with the stock performance equally as impressive.

For more detail, including photos and videos, check out next week’s print edition of the Irish Farmers Journal.