Why once-a-day feeding is making life easier on this 130-cow dairy farm
A recent survey showed that 27pc of discussion group members are feeding their calves once a day (OAD) from four weeks of age and that this practice reduced the time caring for calves by 36pc. So why aren't more farmers doing it?
One of the key concerns for many farmers is that they will 'scour' the calf if calves are fed their daily milk in a single feed. However, in a recent Moorepark experiment, calves fed 15pc of their birth weight (6 litres) in milk replacer from four weeks of age, either once daily or in two equally divided feeds, did not have an increased likelihood of developing diarrhoea.
No differences in calf performance or health were observed between calves fed once or twice a day.
Michael and Paul Reidy from Patrickswell, Co Limerick have been feeding their calves OAD for four years.
Their system of calf rearing is well defined and works well for them. The new born calf's first two feeds are hot colostrum, then on day two the calves receive hot transition milk, from day three until four weeks of age they receive cold yoghurt milk, fed twice daily.
Yoghurt milk recipe
- Add three bottles of Actimal natural yoghurt to two pints of warm milk in a flask - stand for 12 hours.
- Add two pints to three gallons of milk
- Keep warm 200C (thickens in three hours) for 24 hrs -- 150C overnight
- Add three gallons to 40 gallons of warm milk and leave overnight
- Add three gallons from 40 gallons to warm morning milk for evening feeding
- Add three gallons from warm evening milk for morning feeding.
No need for washing and make sure milk is antibiotic free whole milk.
At four weeks, calves are gradually moved from being fed twice daily to a OAD feed. They are moved onto milk replacer a few days prior to being switched on to OAD feeding.