Fourteen on-farm CalfCare events are to take place in December 2019 and January 2020, with a focus on dealing with increased dairy calf numbers.
The number of calves born on dairy farms has increased by almost 400,000 in the last 10 years to an estimated 1.4m. This is coupled with improvements in herd fertility resulting in a more concentrated calving season.
Teagasc and Animal Health Ireland (AHI) will be teaming up with dairy processors Arrabawn, Aurivo, Carbery, Centenary Thurles, Dairygold, Glanbia, Kerry Agribusiness, Lakeland Dairies, North Cork Creameries and Tipperary Co-op, in addition to support from Volac.
Each of the events will focus on four topics:
AHI CEO David Graham said events would support farmers with current information and advice to ensure the best possible outcomes for the next calf-rearing season.
Now in their ninth year, Graham said the events showed the commitment to continued work on calf health and welfare. He thanked the host farmers for agreeing to hold the events.
Head of dairy knowledge transfer in Teagasc Dr Tom O’Dwyer said while the number of calves born on dairy farms had increased by almost 40% since 2011, calf mortality had declined from 3.71% to an estimated 3.20% in 2019.
Teagasc dairy specialist George Ramsbottom said: “Our research shows that well-reared calves are more productive and profitable during their lifetime. Management of calves is improving, as evidenced by declining mortality and an increasing proportion of replacement heifers calving at a younger age.
“However, there is no room for complacency, as only 64% of the dairy replacements born in 2014 calved at two years of age and one in five never calved. So, further improvement in the standard of calf rearing is essential.”