Simon's farm is home to 260 spring-calving Jersey- and Friesian-crossbred cows, where replacement heifers are reared until weaning before being contract reared off-farm thereafter.

Breeding season

During the breeding season, Simon uses collars on his cows to aid with heat detection and health monitoring.

The replacement heifers are bred using AI from both cows and first-time calving heifers.

Once Simon is happy there has been enough animals bred for replacement heifers, the cows are then bred to a beef sire (predominantly Belgian Blue).

Simon aims to calve cows in line with grass growth, so he can maximise the proportion of grazed grass in the annual diet.

Calf-rearing system

According to Simon, giving close consideration to good colostrum management, calf hygiene and the addition of a high-quality milk replacer has played a vital role in improving health and growth rates in his newborn calves.

“I’ve been successfully using Agritech’s Vitalac Blue Calf Milk Replacer for the last six years. It is fed at a 12.5% concentration and calves receive a total of 6l per day, split into two separate feeds.

“We used other products here in the past. However, we found that we were experiencing a lot of issues with calf health and thrive.

"We honestly haven’t looked back since making the switch to Vitalac Blue. It is a very easy product to work with, it mixes easily, and leaves no residue in the teat feeders.

"The support I receive from ruminant nutritionist Maeve Regan is second to none and gives me great peace of mind,” said Simon.

Simon is very conscious of meeting target weights, with calves weighed before weaning, during the summer and he checks them regularly thereafter when they are with the calf rearer.

“We don’t have a particularly big cow here. However, we do know what the target weights are for our calves and we do reach them successfully,” Simon highlighted.

Choosing a milk replacer

According to Agritech’s head of ruminant nutrition Maeve Regan, when buying a milk replacer there are several key criteria to look for.

“Milk replacer should contain a high dairy content, with high-quality dairy ingredients being the main source of protein. Dairy proteins are more easily digestible and available to the calf compared with plant-based or vegetable proteins.

“Milk replacer should replicate the role of good-quality whole milk, typically offered at 12.5% milk solids (for example 125g powder into 875ml clean water to make 1 litre of milk). Feeding a calf twice a day at 6l/day would result in offering the calf 750g of powder/day.

“Milk replacer will be the young calf’s main source of nutrition and where we aim to achieve growth rates on par with whole milk, we have to carefully consider the quality of the milk replacer and its ingredients,” stated Maeve.

Agritech milk replacer range

The Vitalac milk replacer range includes Vitalac Red and Vitalac Blue and ranges from 21% to 24% protein. Both Vitalac Red and Vitalac Blue contain a 90% to 95% non-fat dry matter dairy content.

The quality ingredients used are further enhanced through the use of advanced techniques such as spray cooling technology, meaning the ingredients do not suffer any denaturing during the manufacturing process.

Vitalac Blue is a whey-based, water-soluble calf milk replacer, containing 15% skim milk powder for feeding calves.

The high protein content, consisting of a combination of whey and casein, is excellent for optimising calf growth. Vitalac Blue is also fortified with immunoglobulins, to boost the calves’ immune response systems.

It is suitable for once-a-day and twice-a-day feeding and is ideal for rearing replacement heifers due to its high dairy, protein and skim content.

Vitalac Red is a 21% protein whey-based calf milk replacer of excellent solubility. The use of organic acids in combination with cold-soluble dairy raw ingredients ensures a problem-free rearing programme for your calves. It is a twice-a-day milk replacer and has excellent digestibility as it contains 90% coconut fat.

More information

Through on-farm nutritional support, Agritech is available to support farmers throughout the calving season.

To find out more about the Agritech Vitalac calf milk replacer range, contact your local Agritech sales adviser or click here.