Darren McGourty is a dairy farmer from Kilballivor, Co. Meath. Alongside his father, Padraic, Darren is milking a herd of 210, which is split calved between autumn and spring. The McGourty’s breed their own dairy replacements, therefore they place a huge importance on optimising health and nutrition from the early stages of the calf’s life. Up until late last year, Darren was feeding a whey based milk replacer, however he decided to change to the new Lakeland Agri SkimSmart Calf Milk Replacer, having been informed about it from his local Lakeland Agri rep.
Commenting on the change, Darren states,
“We decided to move to SkimSmart as we were impressed by the high levels of protein but also by the fact that it featured a high skim content. We didn’t have any problems in changing over from one to the other, however it was very reassuring to have the Lakeland Agri team on hand if we had any questions.”
Darren’s calves are usually fed whole milk for approximately 10 days and are then introduced to the milk replacer. Calves are also introduced to good quality hay and a calf starter ration from approximately day 3. Darren carries out a mixed feeding regime; a proportion of calves are bucket fed twice a day and the remaining calves are fed through a Lely automatic feeder, which is currently set on a 78 day feeding programme. He began feeding SkimSmart at a 15% concentration and calves are now increased up to 6 litres/day, which means they are receiving 900 grams of the SkimSmart milk replacer per/day at peak feeding.
“Some people might consider that a high feeding level, however we find that this approach delivers exceptional results. At the higher feeding level, there is a better shine to the calves and it also seems to help with scouring and digestive upsets. We feel that it is important to have a strong calf at weaning as this will give them every chance going forward.”
Typical birth weights of the calves are approximately 40 kgs and they are achieving weaning weights of up to 110 kgs. Gradual weaning on the automatic feeders takes place for 21 days prior to the calves coming off the SkimSmart milk replacer. Calves are currently consuming up to 2 kgs of the calf ration at weaning and this works extremely well in his opinion as they are not seeing any post weaning check in the calves.
Darren is very happy with the results achieved from using SkimSmart.
“The product was easy to mix and flowed very well in the automatic feeder, with little or no lumps compared to previous milk replacers that we have used in the past. I will definitely continue to use SkimSmart going forward.”