With over 2,500 acres, Parahiwi is one of the largest single farms in the Matamata-Piako area.
It has been owned by the Vercoe family since 1986 and today the farm runs a mix of sheep, beef and a 550 milking herd.
For years, Hugh Vercoe and daughter Julie Wright relied on picking up all the available colostrum and reject milk from neighbouring farms to feed their 250 or so replacements and beefies. While it was financially beneficial, driving around to different farms was time consuming.
Then in 2017 with the threat of M. bovis, they decided they needed to control what was coming onto the farm and changed to Ancalf Calf Milk Replacer.
Julie, who was a previous vet nurse and takes care of all the calf rearing, noticed a big difference in her calves’ health straight away.
She had a lot of issues with scours before and the pens used to stink, but as soon as she changed over to Ancalf, the scours problems disappeared. Along with the smell.
The pens are clean, the calves are better conditioned and larger – so we’re never going back to reject milk. It’s just not worth it. Says Julie.
As the calves come in, she meticulously writes down their details and tag numbers so she can track their progress. She’s equally careful in the Ancalf milk preparation, mixing the CMR in small batches to ensure consistency and using the ever popular paint stirrer on a drill.
She then feeds the calves using a 50 teat calfeteria. Depending on calf numbers, they use 4 bags of Ancalf a day and purchased 350 bags in April to lock in the price.
While Ancalf may seem more expensive than reject milk at first glance – the health benefits, the time-saving and the ease of the whole operation really pays off as Hugh explains:
We have now made the decision to continue with Ancalf for our future rearing. We are more interested in the weaned results than a few dollars.
For Julie, rearing calves single-handed is challenging enough, but she also has all the sheep and beef cattle to look after, plus her own horse trekking business, Tauhei Horse Trekking, which she operates on the weekends. But with Ancalf now making her job just that little bit easier she’s looking forward to the season ahead.