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The Simple 1,2,3 of Calf Rearing!

Animal Health Ireland and Teagasc, in conjunction with Glanbia, Kerry Agri Business and Aurivo and supported by Volac are teaming up to deliver seven CalfCare events in January. These events are very timely as calving will start on most dairy farms over the next two weeks. The events will focus on five key areas:

1. Colostrum management
2. Calf nutrition
3. Managing the scouring calf
4. Calf Performance – weaning to mating
5. Biosecurity and managing Johne’s Disease at calving


Dates                                      Venues

Friday, 16 January                  Nigel Bailey, Clough, Gorey, Co. Wexford
Tuesday, 20 January              O’Keeffe Family Farm, Churchclara, Kilkenny
Wednesday, 21 January        Tintur Dairy Farm, Cappoquin Estate, Cappoquin, Co. Waterford
Thursday, 22 January             Tommy Cahill, Tullore, Ballyroan, Portlaoise, Co. Laois.
Monday, 26 January               William Dennehy, Currow, Kilarney, Co. Kerry
Wednesday, 28 January        Martin Gilvarry, Killala, Co. Mayo
Thursday, 29 January             Richard Gregg, Convoy, Co. Donegal

11.00am to 1.00pm - Last Group entry at 12 noon


Colostrum Management
When born, the calf’s immune system is not fully developed and the calf depends on the immunity provided by the antibodies contained in colostrum for protection against disease. The level of antibodies is at its highest in the first milking and can drop by half at the second milking. Antibodies are absorbed whole through the calf’s intestinal wall for only a few hours after birth. Therefore it is vital that all new born calves receive colostrum shortly after birth.

Speakers from Teagasc and the AHI Technical Working Group will outline how to maximise the effective use of colostrum in disease prevention.

Calf Nutrition
Calf feeding recommendations have changed a lot in the last couple of years. The old rule of thumb was to feed two litres of milk (or milk replacer) twice daily. The modern guideline is to feed 13 – 15% of calf birthweight. That’s up to 750 grammes of solids – approximately 6 litres of whole milk or high quality milk replacer. Calves can be fed once daily from four weeks of age but should be fed twice daily until that age.

Information on feeding rates and discussion on calf nutrition will be given by representatives from Teagasc and Volac at the Open Day.

Managing the Scouring Calf
A scouring calf can lose up to 4 litres of additional fluids per day, leading to dehydration, if not addressed. The first step is to remove the scouring calf from the group to prevent or reduce calf to calf infection. Rehydration should be with an appropriate electrolyte solution. 
Once the calf continues to drink, it should be fed its normal milk or milk replacer (in addition to the rehydration fluids). The milk will not make the scour worse but will provide much needed energy.
Speakers from the Animal Health Ireland CalfCare Technical Working Group will explain the reasoning for continuing to feed milk to a scouring calf.

Calf Performance – Weaning to Mating
A number of key milestones need to be achieved in the lifetime of the replacement heifers. At 6, 15 and pre-calving at 24 months of age the heifer should weigh 30%, 60% and 90% of the mature cow weight. If these targets are not achieved, research at Teagasc Moorepark shows that the fertility and milk production potential of the heifers will not be achieved.

Teagasc Specialists together with the host farmer will summarize and discuss the importance of reaching key target weights at critical times during the life of the calf up to mating.

Biosecurity and managing Johne’s Disease at calving
What are the most important disease threats to your stock from outside your farm? This question will be answered as part of a discussion on how biosecurity and good farming practices at calving can prevent the spread of Johne’s Disease on the farm.

Members of the AHI Technical Working Groups will be present to give a summary of the disease risk to your stock and explain the key measures that can be taken at calving to protect newborn calves from becoming infected with Johne’s Disease.

Animal Health Ireland and Teagasc, in conjunction with Glanbia, and supported by Volac are teaming up to deliver four CalfCare events in the Glanbia region during the month of January.  Pictured at the launch of the Calf care events are: Pat Cahill, Volac,  Shane McElroy, Glanbia, Ingrid Lorenz AHI/UCD, Siobhan Kavanagh, Teagasc and George Ramsbottom, Teagasc