At Irwins we feed a wide range of dairy herds all over the country. Farmers are concentrating on getting the top performance possible from their cows. We have noticed that often calves are not growing to their maximum potential. Research shows if a heifer enters the herd strong, well grown and young she will produce more milk and have a longer productive life.
Some months ago, we started to look in finer detail at the nutritional possibilities of calves from a “Blue Sky” perspective. We didn’t want to limit ourselves to current thinking or beliefs as we developed a feed specially designed for calves. After input from nutritional specialists and feedback and guidance from practical farmers we came up with our Blue-Sky Calf Feed.
First generation dairy farmer Richard Watt, milks 140 pedigree Holsteins on his Mountain View farm near Augher, in County Tyrone. His all-year-round calving herd has an average yield of 11,000 litres with 3.9% butterfat and 3.2% protein, milking with two Lely robots.
Richard breeds his own replacements, using sexed semen on heifers and the top 60% of the milking herd. Calves are reared on the farm and are served at 380-400kg. Heifers calve down between 22 and 24 months and are averaging 9,000 litres during their first lactation.
The calves are fed 4 litres of their dam’s colostrum/ milk twice a day for the first five days and then fed 6 litres of milk replacer a day until weaning at eight weeks of age. Ten days before weaning milk replacer is reduced to a single 3 litre feed to encourage calves to eat the nuts, which are available for the calves to eat from birth.
“The calves weren’t transitioning as well as I would have liked during weaning; they were getting scours and we were seeing a check in growth during that period. I wanted to try upping the protein in the calf feed and asked Irwins for help”, he explained.
Andrew West advised Richard to try Blue Sky Calf feed, a compound feed that is specifically formulated for the nutritional needs of young calves and includes micronized, cooked cereals for optimum digestion. It also contains live yeast and premium yeast fraction to encourage early feed intakes, support immunity and rumen development, as well as reduce growth checks and the risk of acidosis or digestive upsets.
Some of the key points are;
- Presentation - Surprisingly it is not a coarse mix, or a tiny pellet but a 5mm pellet for less wastage and better intake.
- Palatability - micronized, cooked cereals are included along with specially selected ingredients to encourage earlier intake of dry feed, for faster rumen development.
- Probiotics- each mouthful contains probiotics to modify the microbial population, stabilise PH and improve feed efficiency and fibre digestion.
- Pathogen Binding - each pellet contains products designed to support the animal’s immune system, bind to pathogens in the digestive tract and stimulate the production of antibodies.
The feed is now available in 25kg bags or jumbos. Try some and you’ll be amazed at the results