Profitable calf rearing with CalfSmart23 Milk Replacer

Profitable calf rearing with CalfSmart23 Milk Replacer

Pictured left to right: Young Stock Sales Specialist, Catherine Davidson and Kenny Wilkinson

Kenny Wilkinson is a first-generation dairy farmer in Ballintoy, Co. Antrim. Kenny began supplying milk as a new entrant in 2009, when he made the transition from a beef and sheep enterprise. The 260-acre farm is now home to a 110 cow Friesian herd. The aim on the Wilkinson farm is to breed a robust grazing animal and Kenny believes the key to this is implementing a good calf rearing programme.

Calf Rearing Programme - “this is the time to be good to them”

All calves receive 3 litres of high-quality colostrum at birth, and then transition milk for the following 3 days after birth. On day four, calves are transitioned onto Lakeland Agri’s CalfSmart23 Milk Replacer. CalfSmart23 is a unique milk formula, precision-formulated by dairy nutrition experts, Volac. It contains 23% protein and is packed with the vital amino acids, immunoglobulins and lactoferrins, which are vital for healthy calf growth and development.

We place a big emphasis on calf health and hygiene to ensure maximum growth and development from an early age.

Key to this is feeding a high-quality milk replacer that produces consistent results every time and that’s what we get in Lakeland Agri’s CalfSmart23, said Kenny.

Kenny has reared his calves on the whey protein-based powder for the last 3 years. CalfSmart23 Milk Replacer is slowly introduced to the diet, starting on a rate of 250g of milk replacer mixed with transition milk and building up to 800g of milk replacer with in 3 feeds, calves are offered a maximum of 6 litres per day. From an early-stage, calves are offered clean fresh water and straw and a calf starter ration.

Calf health is very good overall, and Kenny experiences no issues with scour during the rearing period saying,

Calf health is one of the biggest benefits we have seen. We have had no incidences of scour during the rearing period and calves are thriving really well, with no setbacks. We are delighted with how well they are exceeding target weaning weights.

Kenny believes managing calves correctly at this stage of their life cycle is extremely important and will set them up for a successful future. He said,

this is the time to be good to them.

Weaning For Long Term Performance

Weaning happens on a gradual basis over a 10–12-day period. Kenny explained,

I am happy when all calves are  consuming 2kgs of concentrates at weaning time, then I move them to ad-lib concentrates and straw until turnout in the spring.

We wean calves based on weight rather than age, calves are weaned at 100kg”, Kenny explained. All replacement heifers are weighed using a weight band on a regular basis to ensure target weights are being met

Our aim is to serve heifers at 360-380kg, with the ultimate goal of heifers calving at 550-580kg.

In recent years, Kenny has placed a big emphasis on calving heifers at 24 months of age.

The use of sexed semen in the breeding season and focusing on achieving target weights at weaning and breeding has reduced the average age at first calving from 28 to 26 months, with further improvements expected this year.

Kenny uses sexed semen for the first 9 weeks, and as a result, all replacement heifer calves are born at the beginning of the calving season. Kenny said, “having all the heifer calves born early makes it easier to manage as they can all be reared together on CalfSmart23, and performance can be better monitored.”

CalfSmart Calf Milk Replacer Range from Lakeland Agri

Through the Lakeland RumiSmart Sustain feeding programme, the primary objective is to increase efficiencies inside the farm gate, which in turn, will help farmers achieve a more profitable and sustainable future. With this in mind, the CalfSmart Milk Replacer Range has been specifically formulated to maximise health and performance in the early stages of a calf’s life.

The CalfSmart Milk Replacer Range is manufactured by Volac and is suitable for all calf rearing systems including automatic feeding systems. Both CalfSmart23 and CalfSmart25 include a high dairy content, highly digestible fats and a high protein content which is particularly critical for the metabolic programming of replacement heifers. They are based on concentrated whey protein, Imunopro® and they also benefit from Volac health packages Butyrate and Nutry-lyst, which have shown to improve gut health and development as well as encourage better nutrient absorption.