Contracting out replacement rearing for the first six months is saving Gary and Jess Yeomans £50 a head. Three times a year, they send 50 female goats to a local farm park where they provide the star attraction for children to have a go at bottle feeding.
Once weaned, these females return home to finish growing, get pregnant and join the couple’s 320-head milking goat operation at Pant Farm, Abergavenny.
“We were bottle feeding kids three times a day on whole milk before putting them on to automatic feeders, which supplied ad-lib milk replacer 24 hours a day, plus lamb creep and barley straw,” Jess Yeomans told BGS delegates. “This was hard enough with 40 to 100 a year, but this year it’s 150-plus,” she added.
Similarly, Edward Evans has made his wife’s life easier by installing an automatic calf feeder. Jacky Evans is responsible for rearing calves from the 180-cow herd at Bourne Farm, Monmouth. With buckets it used to take hours. “Jacky told me it now takes just 4.5 minutes to feed 35 calves.” said Mr Evans. “Most of the work now is training new calves to drink. She has only had one complete failure out of 100 calves. We have seen no problems with scours and cases of virus pneumonia have fallen.”