CalfStart Multistart milk replacer and Ambition Calf are proving the perfect combination for Ann Harper who rears around 125 dairy cross calves a year.
“It just makes life easier doing the Ambition Calf and CalfStart Multistart together,” she said. “They just do well, the cattle always sell well and the people who buy them say it’s because you feed them well.”
Ms Harper, who runs Home Farm in Adderbury in Oxfordshire with twin brother David, buys mainly British Blue or Aberdeen Angus cross dairy calves from a local dairy farmer at around two to three weeks old. She then takes them through to 18 to 20 months before selling them at Thame Farmers Mart. Some British Blue heifers are also sold privately as bulling animals.
She chose the Ambition Calf and CalfStart Multistart pellets on the advice of Mole Valley Farmers Regional Sales Manager, Clive Barrington-Cramp, after asking for the bestquality products available.
CalfStart Multistart is formulated to achieve good growth rates in high performance beef and dairy calves. It is highly digestible and includes 22% protein.
Ambition Calf is a high-quality calf feed that incorporates the speciality supplement, OmniGen-AF to maintain a healthy immune system and help the animals cope with stress events.
The feed includes ingredients like barley, wheat gluten, wheat feed, maize grain, soya and sugar beet pulp and has been formulated to encourage dry matter intake and high daily liveweight gain.
Investing in performance
Ms Harper believes investing in the calf rearing period is a no brainer when looking for good long-term performance. “If you give them a good start, they’ll repay you. If you get a good calf at 12 weeks old, you’re halfway there,” she said.
Calves are initially fed 3 litres of milk replacer twice a day increasing to about 3 litres twice a day. They are offered the Ambition Calf ad-lib from day one, as well as hay in racks and fresh water.
Ms Harper will then start the weaning process at around 10 weeks old, so calves are fully weaned by about 12 weeks old and only when they’re eating about 1kg of pellets. She has seen calves take to the Ambition Calf straight away, which makes for a smoother weaning process. “They go straight to it,” she said. “Even though they’re little and just looking and nibbling, they get going on it quite quickly and you can see the broadness on their backs.”
Calves are kept on Ambition Calf after weaning, regardless of the time of year. In the winter, calves will receive the pellets forone month before being slowly introduced to a total mixed ration of homegrown grass and maize silage. The pellets will then gradually be removed from four months of age.
In the summer, young calves are turned out to grass and provided with Ambition Calf throughout the grazing period. “Even if you only give 1kg to each animal every day you can see the difference,” Ms Harper said. “I know a lot of people say just chuck them out to grass, but it doesn’t half make a difference.”
Ms Harper believes the OmniGen-AF in the Ambition Calf also helps support the calves’ immunity. This is also aided by good colostrum management on the dairy farm they came from and keeping stress to a minimum.
She believes the level of scours has reduced since feeding Ambition Calf, although it was never more than five in every 50 calves before.
“I don’t ever get scours. I don’t. I always keep some stuff in from the vet but four months ago I chucked some bottles out because they were out of date. The calves are very content. It’s easy to notice if something is wrong and I’m not noticing anything.”
Ms Harper also praised the service from Mr Barrington-Cramp and Mole Country Stores in Buckingham.
“I think it’s the personal service,” she said. “Clive is just there at the end of the phone. He’ll ring and text and say there’s a Bank Holiday coming up, do you need anything and that’s really handy. We’re all busy. It’s the old-fashioned service and you don’t get that anymore.
“The deliveries are good. They turn up on time. They’re as good as gold and often ring ahead if I ask them to. They give you a half hour warning and that makes all the difference, especially in the summer when you’re busy.”