Deirdre Barrett operates a very successful calf to beef enterprise in Castletownroche, Fermoy, Co Cork, rearing up to 400 young bull and heifer calves each year.
“I run a calf to beef enterprise, along with my husband Jim and our two children Kevin and James. We don’t calve down any cows on the farm. Instead we purchase bull and heifer calves, rearing them for export and for the factory.”
Feeding the increasing number of calves on the farm was Deirdre’s primary motive for purchasing a JFC Agri Evolution S4 automatic calf feeder.
“We invested in the Evolution automatic calf feeder in January 2019. We chose the four-station feeder to cater for the increasing volume of calves coming into the farm.”
The JFC Agri Evolution S4 automatic calf feeder feeds and monitors up to 140 calves on an individual basis. The control unit is complete with an innovative touchscreen display, dual hoppers and mixing bowls.
Deirdre rears up to 400 calves on the JFC Agri Evolution S4 automatic calf feeder over the course of the spring.
Since installing the JFC Agri Evolution S4 automatic calf feeder, Deirdre has seen a number of clear benefits in terms of calf rearing and how she can now monitor calf performance.
1) Saving you time and increasing labour efficiency
“Time is an invaluable resource, as we could have up to 80 new calves arriving on the farm in the space of just one week. The calves are between two weeks and one month old when they arrive here.
"From my experience, the younger you can get the calves on to the Evolution Feeder, the better. I have seen first-hand how quickly young calves adapt to the automatic feeder.
"Since installing the JFC Agri Evolution S4 automatic calf feeder, we have seen a massive reduction in the amount of time and labour needed to look after the calves, in comparison to when we would have used the batch feeder.
"We would have spent up to three hours per day mixing powder and feeding. We often needed three people at feeding time. Now, one person can look after the calves.
“Since investing in the JFC Evolution Feeder, we have halved both the labour and time required to feed the calves. It has saved us hours and wages – money and time that we can now invest elsewhere on the farm.”
2) Extended calf-rearing capacity
Since installing the JFC Agri Evolution S4 automatic calf feeder, the Barretts are now able to rear calves in the autumn, meaning that they have been able to increase the amount of calves that they can keep on the farm throughout the year.
“Before we installed the automatic calf feeder, we were not in a position to be able to rear calves in the autumn time. This is now possible with Evolution S4.
"From the amount of time and labour that we have saved, it has meant that we are now able to rear calves year-round, while not compromising on calf health and quality.
"We are able to utilise the Evolution Feeder throughout the year, rather than just during the spring with the batch feeder.
"There is no way we could have reared calves in the autumn or winter when using the batch feeder. We simply just would not have had the time.”
3) Improved calf performance
Deirdre admits that the calves are in much better condition on the JFC Agri Evolution S4 automatic calf feeder when compared with batch feeding.
“The calves have ad-lib access to their milk allocation throughout the day, just like they would if they were reared on the cow.
"I feel that this is a much more natural way for the calf than filling them with milk once a day.
"Having spent years rearing calves on buckets and teat feeders, it is very clear to see that they are much more relaxed and comfortable on the Evolution Feeder, because they drink when they are hungry and don’t have to compete with other calves for their allocation. They can come and go as they please.
“Naturally, some calves drink a lot slower than others. The Evolution Feeder ensures that every single calf gets their full allocation of milk, no matter how long it takes them. They are not getting pushed out of the way, or bullied, like they do on the teat feeders. They will always get the necessary daily portion of milk, which is so important for their condition and to thrive.
“In comparison to teat feeding, the calves' coats are in great condition at weaning, which makes total sense, because they have been so well looked after with milk four times a day – getting all the required nutrition.”
JFC customer support
Deirdre believes that the after-sales service that the team at JFC Agri offers is top class.
“David Bridgeman is our JFC Agri contact. David is absolutely fantastic and deserves credit. I can ring him at any time, night or day, and always have the confidence that I’m being looked after. He is so helpful and knowledgeable.
"The service is a major selling point from our point of view. The team at JFC Agri are unbelievably helpful and good at their jobs. They go over and above what they need to do and I would go back again and again for that alone.”
Worth the investment
Deirdre believes that when all things are considered, the JFC Agri Evolution S4 automatic calf feeder is a value-for-money investment.
“The automatic calf feeder is an investment and it is worth it in the long run. It will pay for itself very quickly when you consider the savings made on wages, time and physical labour, plus the knowledge and backup service provided by JFC Agri is invaluable.
"It gives you such peace of mind, which is worth so much when dealing with young calves.”
For more information, contact Evolution sales manager James McGrath on 087-124 74 35 or email JMcGrath@jfcagri.com.