Investing in future by spoiling heifers
Pat Buckley farms a 120-cow spring calving herd at Yard Farm, Drumcunnig, Abbeydorney, Co Kerry, and supplies Kerry Group.
The 60ha farm is in a single block, located around the house and is highly stocked at a rate of 2.88LU/ha.
In 2010, the calving season began on February 1 and finished on May 20.
After calving, the calf remains with the dam for 12 hours or until the next milking, explains Pat. During this time he ensures the calf gets enough colostrum.
"When the cow is taken out to be milked, she goes back into the herd and the calf is offered biestings from a bucket and teat," says Pat. The calf is moved into a calf pen with between two and five other new calves.
"I used to use single calf pens but in the last few years I've moved to keeping small calves together," explains Pat.
"I think they can get spooked more easily in a single pen and are more inclined to drink in a pen where they have company."
Once the calf has learned how to drink, which generally takes two days, it is moved into another pen when it will be fed warm biestings from a milk bar twice per day.