Pictured: Donal McElroy with his sons, Tom (left) and Harry (right)
Donal McElroy farms in the townland of Carrickallen, near Kilkerley, Co. Louth with the support of his father, Gerry and a local student. In 2021, the farm’s herd consisted of 250 milking cows, 85% of which are spring calving and the remaining 15% are autumn calvers to fulfil existing winter milk contracts. The McElroy’s system is grass-based, with the goal of a compact calving pattern while achieving optimal growth rates and thrive to ensure an effective heifer rearing system which is a critical success factor for Donal.
With the expansion of the herd and the additional pressure on labour, Donal has turned to once-a-day (OAD) calf feeding from 28-days of age for the past number of years. In the spring of 2021, Donal agreed to trial Lakeland Agri’s new FlexiSmart23 calf milk replacer to see how this could benefit the farm within his calf-rearing plan.
Donal’s calf-rearing system
Initially, the calves are kept in smaller groups made up of 8-10 calves fed on whole milk before transitioning to the FlexiSmart23 milk replacer after a number of days. The calves are kept on twice daily feeding until day 28, and are transitioned to once-a-day feeding over a number of days by increasing the volume/concentration of the morning feed while decreasing the evening feed.
Calves are then kept on once-a-day feeding until they are 9-10 weeks of age and then slowly weaned off milk. Weaning is usually decided by weight as Donal aims to double birth weight + 8%. Generally, the weaning process starts when calves are weighing 85-90kg.
Donal had the following to say on using the Lakeland Agri FlexiSmart23 milk replacer:
“We have high expectations for our calves, and we like to rear them well, as that is what really sets them up for high performance when they enter the milking herd.
“We found when using FlexiSmart23 milk replacer we were able to meet our expectations and the calves performed as well as we could have hoped for. The group of 72 calves are currently ahead of their current weight target for breeding in May 2022.”
“We always used a whey-based product until we switched to FlexiSmart23, which is skim-based, and we are very impressed with the product.”
A versatile calf milk replacer
The Lakeland Agri FlexiSmart23 calf milk replacer is produced using only the highest quality ingredients to ensure calves can benefit from a highly digestible and nutritious feed. It is formulated to suit the modern farm, offering the complete package to suit once or twice a day feeding.
FlexiSmart23 calf milk replacer is suitable for bucket or computerised feeding systems. With 23% protein it is positioned to optimise calf growth and skeletal development.
The high skim content in the FlexiSmart23 provides a slow release of nutrients throughout the day and encourages feed intake and rumen development. It has a balanced blend of fats and oils for improved digestibility and nutrient intake.
FlexiSmart23’s added benefits
The FlexiSmart23 milk replacer benefits from the inclusion of probiotics to promote a balanced gut, protect against pathogens in the gastrointestinal area, and reduce the risk from scour causing bacteria, and contains an elevated level of B vitamins to improve the calf’s digestive system by promoting beneficial bacterial growth, while inhibiting the growth of pathogenic microbes.
Now entering the market as the most recent addition to the Lakeland Agri milk replacer range, the FlexiSmart23 also benefits from the RumiSmart Sustain advanced trace element, mineral and vitamin specification to support the calf’s natural immune system for improved immunity, health and thrive.
If you would like additional information on the Lakeland Agri FlexiSmart23, or indeed any milk replacer within the Lakeland Agri range, please contact your local Lakeland Agri Sales Representative or the Customer Service Centre on 0818 47 47 20 (ROI) or 028 3026 2311 (NI).