Pictured left to right - McCluskey brothers, Conor and Ciaran with newborn calves.
The McCluskey family farm lies deep in the rural Gaeltacht region of Balsaw, Wilkinstown, Co. Meath. The father and son trio of Michael, Ciaran and Conor are new dairy farmers, having only completed their primary year in dairying at the end of 2020.
The McCluskey’s converted from a beef and tillage farm to a dairy unit and started supplying milk to Lakeland Dairies in 2020, milking an initial 100 cows. Key to the continual growth of their business is an effective heifer-rearing programme.
Last year the McCluskey’s reared all their calves, however the intention this coming year is to retain only the dairy replacement heifers and to sell all dairy bull calves and beef bred calves, which should help to streamline their calf rearing practices significantly.
Last year the trio introduced the Lakeland Agri CalfSmart23 Milk Replacer and were very impressed with the performance their calves achieved. Ciaran stated,
The calves looked really well, there was a great shine to their coats, and we didn’t experience any digestive issues.
In conjunction with the Lakeland Agri CalfSmart23 Milk Replacer, the McCluskey’s also introduced the Lakeland Agri Calf Munchy Calf Muesli to their calves at 5-6 days old.
The calves took to the muesli without a hiccup. It looked like a great mix and the calves really liked it. The combination of the milk replacer and starter feed had the calves looking excellent by weaning time and when they got to grass.
The heifer calves go onto the milk replacer at 7 days old and remain on the milk replacer for 60 days. Weaning takes place when the calves are approximately 10 weeks of age, or when they have doubled their birth weight and are consuming at least 1kg of concentrate for several concurrent days. They are gradually built up to consuming 900grams of milk powder/day, remaining on that level for a few weeks before beginning a gradual weaning process.
Overall, each calf consumes roughly 1.75-2 bags of milk powder. Upon reflection of the performance of his calves in 2020, Ciaran feels the maiden heifers are looking extremely well at present and are well ahead of target for bulling in May 2021. Ciaran credits this to the good start achieved with the combination of the Lakeland Agri CalfSmart23 Milk Replacer and Lakeland Agri Munchy Calf Muesli, along with good quality grass throughout the year.
We would recommend the Lakeland Agri CalfSmart Milk Replacer range and the Lakeland Agri Calf Starter feed range to any farmer. The calves performed really well, and we are definitely going to use these feeds for the season ahead.