From left to right: Raymond Garvey, Catherine Davidson, Lakeland Agri Young Stock Specialist, and Aiden Garvey.
Raymond and Aiden Garvey of Millfarm Holsteins are milking 120 cows near Silverbridge, Co. Armagh. The mainly pedigree Holstein herd is calving all year round, supplying milk into Lakeland Dairies.
Replacement heifers are the backbone of any pedigree herd, therefore the Garvey’s place huge focus on achieving a successful calf rearing programme and optimising performance from the early stages of the calf’s life.
A good start is half the battle
All calves receive 4 litres of colostrum as soon as possible after birth. Colostrum quality is measured using a Brix refractometer and is only fed to the calf if it is at least 25%. Providing a clean and hygienic environment is key to the Garvey’s success as well as making sure that the calf is fed a high-quality calf milk replacer.
FlexiSmart23 Milk Replacer
On day three, calves are transitioned onto the FlexiSmart23 Milk Replacer and offered a home mix of creep feed which includes mostly straw and lucerne.
Calves are fed FlexiSmart23 twice a day up to 28 days of age before transitioning onto once-a-day feeding. Aiden gradually builds his calves up to 800g of FlexiSmart23 Milk Replacer, feeding a total of 6 litres split between two feeds via buckets. To transition calves to once-a-day feeding, the evening feed is reduced by 500 ml per day, keeping the amount of milk replacer fed at the same level.
FlexiSmart23 Milk Replacer works well with a unique formulation of flavours, skimmed milk, whey, and buttermilk, forming a firm clot in the stomach and leaving calves satisfied for longer throughout the day. The 23% skim-based protein encourages calf frame growth and development.
FlexiSmart23 also has a combination of probiotics, immunoglobulins, additive vitamins and minerals which help promote gut health and support the calf’s natural immune system.
“As long as the calves keep drinking the milk replacer, they will get over most problems. Our yard is very exposed with changeable weather conditions; however, the calves have had no setbacks at all. We’ve used less doses this year than ever before,” explained Aiden.
“The FlexiSmart23 Milk Replacer makes the transition to once-a-day feeding and weaning a breeze. Calves are consuming at least 3 kg of feed before we wean them over the course of ten days.
“Calves achieved a 0.9kg average daily gain from birth to weaning this year, which we were delighted with. Achieving target weights at weaning has allowed us to calve down at an average of 22-23 months. We’ve averaged 1.3 straws per pregnancy this year, which is very important when growing a pedigree herd.
“The combination of once-a-day feeding and strong early development gives us an excellent base to produce high performing cows,”said Aiden.