Simple routine boosts calf liveweight at Pool Head Farm

An all-in/all-out system, simple routine and good management helps calves achieve 140-150kg liveweight at 14 weeks old at Pool Head Farm.

Bought in at two weeks old from farms and local markets, calves are sorted by size and drinking speed and remain in set groups in airy, straw-bedded pens through to sale at 14 weeks old. “We do as little mixing and moving of groups as possible,” said owner Alan Barrow, an ex-dairy farmer, who rears 1200 calves annually for buyers.

All bedded areas have under-floor drainage and raised feed passages to ensure lying areas are dry. Most of the former dairy sheds have fan-assisted ventilation.

On the feed side, the initial milk replacer is vitamin rich as no record is provided from farms or markets of an infant calf’s access to colostrum. Routine tasks within the first weeks include a two-dose 4-in-1 vaccine, dehorning and bluetongue vaccination.

“Mortality is just 1.2%. Because we are not stuffing huge volumes of milk replacer into calves there’s little nutritional scour. Weaning isn’t rigidly fixed to a golden six weeks on-farm but instead dependant on calves eating 1.5kg a head a day of the feed mix.”

Customers spread from Aberdeen to the south-west are encouraged to use the same mix when calves are transferred from the Calf Company’s rearing unit. “Consistency is everything,” he said.

Read more from the Calf Company/Keenan Open Day

Too much milk replacer can stifle calf development
Avoid feeding calves waste milk or risk cutting yields