Farmer Focus: Calf ownership scheme gives staff a head start

Eight weeks into calving and we’re about 84% of the way through.  Conditions have been excellent and so far, everything has gone smoothly.  

Cows have calved mostly unaided and without complication. I don’t think we’ve assisted more than five cows throughout the eight weeks and have had one uterine prolapse that was successfully put back in place.  

With a higher number of cows now in fifth lactation we’ve had to address some milk fever promptly, but cows have quickly bounced back once treated with calcium and magnesium. 

On the grazing front, it looks like the first round will be complete by the end of the first week in April.

See also: What is the ideal DM to milk solids ratio to survive price volatility?

Regrowth on the grazed fields has hit 26kgDM/ha measured over the past two weeks and in early February grazed paddocks were getting up to covers of 2,300-2,400kg/DM/ha.

Weather forecasts into April predict settled conditions but with nights getting colder. So, with average temperatures set to drop back a bit we’re not anticipating any big growth jumps so the grass shouldn’t get out of control.

Calves are looking really good and we have started turning groups of 40 out to grass, these will continue to get milk on once-a-day feeding before weaning at about 80-90kg.

Zoe has done a tremendous job of rearing all the calves that have come in and has given the heifers the best start we could wish for.  

We will have surplus heifer calves this year, and with all four members of the team wanting to get into stock ownership they provide a great starting point.

To support them with this we will keep calves to be taken on by them with the farm’s heifers and allow them to rear them alongside, charging a daily rearing cost.  

This allows them to invest their time into their own stock as well as the farm’s. Once weaned, the calves can then be moved on to other land or rearing arrangements or they can continue here on a similar basis.

It is an exciting part of their personal development, and one will that have the potential to help unlock new opportunities. 

Johnjo Roberts is a Farmer Focus writer on Anglesey. Read his biography.