Pictured: Brian Rushe
Brian Rushe from Coonagh, Carbury, Co. Kildare converted from a beef and tillage enterprise to a dairy unit in 2013, supplying milk to Lakeland Dairies. Over the past 7 years, Brian has continued to grow the business, milking 240 cows in 2020 and his goal this year is to increase his herd size to 320 cows. Despite the continual growth in terms of cow numbers, Brian has not sacrificed the quality of his stock. In 2020, he sold 490 kgs milk solids/cow at a butterfat of 4.71% and protein of 3.84%, with a concentrate input of 770 kgs/cow, which is an impressive level of production.
A key contributing factor to the business’s success is an effective heifer rearing programme. The most recent innovation within the business was the installation of an automatic calf feeder in spring 2020. Following the first full season, Brian was significantly impressed with the automatic calf feeder and felt it helped simplify the rearing process of his 100 heifer calves dramatically.
The heifer calves go onto the feeder at 4/5 days of age and remain on the feeder for 70 days. They are gradually built up to consuming 1kg of milk powder/day, remaining on that level for a number of weeks before beginning a gradual weaning process. Overall, each calf consumes roughly two bags of milk powder.
Last year Brian chose Lakeland Agri CalfSmart25 Milk Replacer and was suitably impressed with the performance his calves achieved. Brian commented;
I felt the calves looked really well, and despite the high levels of milk powder input, I didn’t experience a single issue with digestive upsets in the calves. The high protein content of the milk powder helped grow the frames of the calves. The product mixed really well, using it with the calf feeders and in a manual capacity – there were no issues at all.
In conjunction with the Lakeland Agri CalfSmart Milk Replacer, Brian also used the Lakeland Agri Calf Starter Pellets. He introduced these to the calves immediately, through bird-proof ad-lib feeders. The calves’ intakes build up to the point where Brian estimates they were eating over 1kg/calf/day, and once they achieve this milestone for a number of days, Brian began to transition them over to a calf grower nut. Upon reflection of the performance of his calves in 2020, Brian says,
The maiden heifers are looking extremely well at present and are well ahead of target for bulling in May 2021.
Brian credits this to the good start achieved with the combination of the Lakeland Agri CalfSmart Milk Replacer and Lakeland Agri Calf Starter Pencils, along with good quality grass throughout the year.