25 August 1995

Give them a warm start

FEEDING calves warm whole milk ad lib for their first two weeks gives them a better start.

So says Somerset producer Neil Christensen who considers the £400 investment on a four-teat milk warming system cost-effective for feeding 400 calves a year.

Calves at Steanbow Farm, Shepton Mallet, are housed in a purpose built shed with two pens, each for up to 20 calves.

When a calf sucks on a teat milk is drawn through a small pipe from the milk storage drum. The pipe passes through a water-filled warming box. This ensures milk is fed at a constant temperature of 35C (95F). Because this system means calves are ad lib-fed at such a young age, management is vital.

"You need to check the calves are drinking and that they have full stomachs," he says. "When they are not drinking you need to show them the teat." &#42

The four-teat milk warming system.