Buying in young calves to rear on multi-suckled cows can be fraught with difficulty.
For a start, you don’t know the health status of the calf you are buying, whether it had enough colostrum at birth, nor whether it will even suckle a cow. This approach also mixes animals into new social groupings, which can increase stress and, as a result, the incidence of disease problems.But one farmer who adopts this management approach thinks he has found the answer. Up until November 2013 Sean Quinn was a dairy farmer, but he gave up milking and moved to rearing beef animals, which he buys as young calves and sells as strong stores.He has a small herd of suckler cows on his County Armagh farm, and these are multi-suckled 4-6 calves/cow, with all of the calves being supplemented with a once-a-day feed with milk powder. This means that Sean buys in around 80 calves each year from local markets.“We previously saw problems with scour in the calves and they were often unsettled on arrival,” Sean explained. “To help address these issues we started including a combination of Actisaf live yeast and Safmannan yeast cell wall material in our milk powder.”The products, which are sold blended in an easy to use bucket, are designed to aid in the development of the calf’s gut whilst also protecting the digestive system and lowering the risk of scour.“We add the Actisaf and Safmannan blend to the milk powder as soon as the calves arrive and continue to use it every day until the calves are about 5-6 months old,” Sean said. “Since we started using it we’ve found that the calves are much more content, cud well and we’ve had very few problems with scour.”In fact, so impressed was Sean with the results, that he is also now including Actisaf in the diet for older calves too.“We now add Actisaf as a farm pack to
the older calves’ diet, mixing it in with
the meal, which is then fed with hay
and molasses. These products have transformed our calf rearing – it is easier to rear good calves and it is easily the best feed product I’ve ever tried.”