Just off the Rangitata-Orari Bridge Highway Road that heads towards Fairlie is Grandlea 1 – a
225 hectare dairy farm run by contract milkers James and Charlotte Emmett. Ten years ago they left the life of running a bar in Christchurch to give dairy a go and haven’t looked back. Each year they aim to rear 28% replacement calves and depending on their calving rate get between 250-270 calves. They also rear 50 beef cross a year, plus the bull calves they rear for the farm owners the Pye Group, who give them fantastic support.
The beef calves are predominately sold to boost their bottom line. But while profit is important, James doesn’t believe in compromising quality by cutting costs, he wants quality products for excellent results.
James’ wife Charlotte is the chief calf rearer on this farm and she begins with twice a day feeding, dropping down to once a day when the calves go out to the paddock. It’s a weight-based system that produces fast results. James explains:
“We find by using Ancalf we can get them up to weight quicker than normal.”
While the beef calves are solely reared on Ancalf, the Emmetts still use vat milk and colostrum to feed their heifer replacements. But if they show signs of illness or don’t reach target weights they are switched to Ancalf. These calves then really flourish, showing a 10 kilo weigh difference at every weigh in.
When it comes to preparing their Ancalf, Charlotte has one non-negotiable. The milk must be warm, just as if it’s coming from mum. It’s all about giving them the best possible feeding experience. They mix Ancalf in small batches with warm water before adding to the calfateria and adding more warm water later.
“The most obvious sign is the coat and eyes, they’re really bright and bubbly.” Says James.
James also reckons the coccsidiostat in Ancalf is a real plus for them. Together with the minerals and nutrients and casein protein they simply get to weaning weights a lot quicker.
More and more farmers like James are determined to give their calves the best start in life to ensure they become contributing, healthy and productive animals in the New Zealand milking herd.
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