“We lost two bucket-reared calves here and five from the suckler herd (out of 49 calvings) – it was a frustrating time. Thankfully, there’s just one idle cow now, with dairy-beef calves adopted onto cows that lost their calves. She scanned in-calf, but must have absorbed the foetus. She’s for fattening now anyway,” Tom told me.

One of Tom’s lost calves came from a cow that missed her Rotavec vaccination, while another was dead on arrival. Three others developed scour and Tom took blood samples.

Cow and calf on Tom's farm.

“I wanted to see whether they had enough colostrum consumed. The bloods came back with an excellent level of antibody transfer, however. We were scratching our heads and then it clicked. For the last number of years here we’ve been giving young calves Halocur in their early days as a preventative measure against cryptosporidium. During the cold weather we came out some mornings and the Halocur had frozen in the bottle and we had to defrost it. My son (Ian) did some research and found that the constituents could have been potentially compromised,” Tom explained.

This breeding season, Tom will look to his Charolais stock bull, by Jumper and holding €173 on the terminal index, as well as a team of AI sires.

“I’m really happy with my bull, the calves come easy and are seriously vigorous. I’m using EBY on my heifers. He’s a great bull and surprising in a way – they come so easy and they’re plain enough at first, but almost ‘mutate’ into lovely, shapely animals,” Tom commented.

Tom Bolger reared 56 dairy-beef calves this spring.

"I’m going to use the Saler Ulsan (SA2189) on my white Charolais cows and others out of CWI – he’s been a real success on this farm. I like Simmentals and will use some QCD on the handier cows here – I’m conscious that my cows are already big on average and don’t want to make them any bigger. I started off with Simmentals from the dairy herd and they were great cows, but over the years too much Charolais has crept in. In this year’s calf batch I have seven Simmental x dairy heifers to inject some milk back in."

Read more

Meet Tom Bolger and see some of his safety innovations

All BETTER farm articles