James Hoey, Drumcar Farm, Co. Louth, was a new entrant to dairy farming in 2017, and has been supplying milk to Lakeland Dairies since the spring of that year.
Over the past two seasons, James has been expanding his high EBI, crossbred herd, a practice he intends to continue in future years. To achieve this, a successful heifer-rearing programme is imperative, as James plans to calve all of his heifers at 23-24 months of age.
James strives for heifers that are well developed and fertile. Maximising daily live-weight gains from the very start is essential for James and the aim for each heifer is to achieve an average daily live-weight gain of circa 0.7-0.8kg between weaning and calving.
During 2018, a trial was undertaken with James’ calves, where they were assigned to differing groups which were monitored and weighed at the beginning and end of a 60-day trial period.
Each group of calves were randomly selected with no bias, and were allocated to three individual groupings:
- Grass-only group (GO)
- A group fed on grass and 2kg/hd/day of the Lakeland Agri Calf Grower Nut (CG)
- A group fed on grass and 2kg/hd/day of a high-quality home blend meal consisting of barley and soyabean meal (HB)
All groups were treated similarly in terms of grassland management and were administered the necessary dosing as required.
When the trial period was completed, the following conclusions were reached:
Calves on Lakeland Agri Calf Grower Nut recorded a 10% greater daily live-weight gain, compared to calves that were fed on James’ home blend meal and a 38% greater daily-live weight gain, compared to calves which were on a grass only diet.
Commenting on the results achieved from the Lakeland Agri Calf Grower Nut, James stated:
Calves performed extremely well on the Calf Grower Nut. I was very happy with how they responded to the feed and you could see this in how well they looked.
It was great to see the weight they achieved on paper. I had a target of 175kg for calves at the end of the trial, but they actually weighted 194kg on average, which was fantastic.”