Cutting calf casualties to the minimum
Compact calving central to process
Pat and Nora Flynn run a 90-cow Friesian herd on their farm at Coolmohan, Araglin, Kilworth, Co Cork.
Compact calving is a feature of the Coolmohan herd, with 60 cows calved down in the first 19 days of the calving season. Last year's performance was 73 cows calved out of 80 in just one month.
The herd has an average EBI of €117, with an average yield of 1,456ga at 4.30pc fat and 3.86pc protein. Calf mortality is generally low, at an average of two to three calves a year.
Cows are monitored by CCTV prior to and during calving, allowing early intervention if necessary. In order to reduce the risk of difficult births, cows are not fed before calving.
Immediately after birth the calf's navel is treated with alamycin spray and the animal is then tagged. It is then brought to one of the 16 individual calf pens -- known as the baby pens -- in the calf house.
Calves spend one or two days in a baby pen, during which time they are bucket-trained by Nora.
All calf pens are open barred, although a canvas cover is placed over the rear of the baby pens to provide shelter from any draughts.
All calves are bedded down on wood chips, which Pat says is a much cleaner and less labour-intensive method than using either slats or straw.