23 August 1996

Calves best in hutches

REARING baby calves in hutches instead of batches of five is improves growth rates at ADAS Bridgets, Martyr Worthy, Hants.

Farm manager Robert Bull had struggled to increase growth rates to above 0.5kg a day in the calves first five weeks. But this summer housing in individual hutches has improved calf health and growth.

Mr Bull said that the heifers in hutches gained an extra 10kg liveweight over five weeks compared with bulls housed indoors.

With hutches there was no competition between animals and less risk of calves infecting each other if they become ill, he said.

"Both groups of calves are fed 2-2.5 litres of milk plus 0.25-0.5 litres of colostrum for 10 days.

Then they are fed up to 3 litres of milk replacer judged on the size of the calf." Calves are offered small amounts of concentrate twice a day from seven days old to a maximum of 2kg a day in two feeds.