MEMBERS of a dairy Business Development Group based in the Broughshane area recently met at the farm of Francis Patterson to discuss the impact of effective calf rearing strategies on their businesses.
The meeting was facilitated by the local dairying Development Adviser, Aidan Cushnahan, with additional contributions by Dr Mark Little, Trouw Nutrition.
Mark outlined key points associated with the ‘LifeStart’ programme for rearing dairy heifer replacements. These included:
· The need for the new born calf to receive adequate colostrum (10 % bodyweight) immediately after birth
· Rearing calves in a clean, dry, draught free but well-ventilated environment
· Developing a feed strategy to allow calves to achieve daily growth rates of 1.0 kg/ day between birth and weaning
· Using a weigh band to monitor performance
BDG members also discussed the results of milk ketone testing which they had carried out in their own herds. This has allowed them to assess the impact of their transition cow management programmes.