Going from a purely whole milk calf rearing system to feeding calf milk replacer (CMR) has been a positive experience for dairy farmer Jenna McLeod. She says CMR is not only more cost-effective, but the calves grow better: they reach target weights quickly and transition to weaning with no growth check.
Keeping the calves healthy and growing them well are Jenna’s key objectives. She cites AgriVantage’s toolkit of Sprayfo Blue whey-based CMR, Launchpad18 colostrum powder and Biopect prebiotic as being key products in her calf rearing toolkit.
Jenna is the business manager of Areare Farms (the Rogers’ family farm) in the North Waikato. Milking 800 cows, calving is split between autumn and spring with 190 calves reared in autumn and 480 over spring – a mix of dairy heifer replacements, beef, and Friesian bulls.
Three years ago, Jenna made the switch from a whole milk only rearing system to Sprayfo Blue whey-based milk replacer.
“I like Sprayfo Blue because it is easy to prepare, it smells nice, and it feels like it should” says Jenna. “Where some powders are clumpy and grainy, Sprayfo has a nice ‘finish’ to it.
“The calves like it, they transition to grass well, and they become well-conditioned animals.”
Jenna initially feeds her calves on colostrum milk. Once the milk is saleable, the calves get fortified milk (up to about 4 weeks old) and then milk replacer only until they reach the 90-100kg target weight, usually at about 8-10 weeks.
‘Doing colostrum properly’ became Jenna’s mantra after experiencing crypto in the calf shed a few years ago.
“Getting the right amount of IgG into the calf, quickly, has made a huge difference to calf health on our farm” she says.
“Launchpad18 colostrum powder is our stop gap – for when we don’t have enough colostrum or when quality isn’t good enough.”
Colostrum gold is collected from the cows and tested, with only ‘the good stuff’ set aside. When the brix % is below 22, Launchpad18 is added to fortify and top up the IgG to the right level.
“We tube all our calves their colostrum feed” Jenna notes. “Both tube feeding and using Launchpad18 has been a game changer. By giving the calves the best start, we have significantly reduced the number of sick calves – we’ve gone from having 10% of the calves getting sick to under 2% last season.”
Biopect complementary prebiotic feed is Jenna’s ‘go to’ for weaker calves. It provides a source of plant fibres, readily available energy, and electrolytes to help support hydration.
“Every calf rearer needs Biopect!” Jenna says. “I use it for calves that are a bit ‘off’ or not doing as well on just milk. Or even when transitioning to once-a-day. I simply add a bit of Biopect to their milk. Sometimes, I mix it into water for the calves to ad-lib feed overnight and they lap it up.
“Food source, energy source and electrolyte replacer, Biopect lines the gut and binds them up. You do have to mix it right, but Biopect can literally get calves off the ground. It’s brilliant stuff!”
These three products, together with the support from AgriVantage North Island Business Manager Jaco Neven, have been important components of this successful calf rearing operation.
“Launchpad18 colostrum powder is the best, Sprayfo Blue is a great fit for our system and Biopect is my absolute favourite product” concludes Jenna. “I also appreciate Jaco’s ready availability at the end of the phone, he’s good for advice. Quite often a simple text is all it takes for our order arrive.
“I feel like we have a fine-tuned system in place.”
Areare farm set-up
Farm type: Dairy
Location: North Waikato
Rearing numbers: 190 autumn calves, 480 spring calves
Products used: Launchpad18 whole colostrum powder, Sprayfo Blue CMR, Biopect
Weaning target weight: 90-100kg
Products used by Areare farm to optimise calf growth
Sprayfo Blue Premium Calf Milk Replacer
Our premium whey calf milk replacer for enhanced rumen development
Our premium, whole colostrum replacer with high levels of IgG.
Our all-natural anti-scour prebiotic for calves