'We were feeding the calves four times a day to keep them alive'
Published 06/01/2016 | 02:30
Dermot Heaney started out on his own with 160 cows in 2010, and expects to calve 250 this year, but it was in the first year of his big move that he faced his biggest obstacle.
"In our first spring we faced a big challenge from a salmonella outbreak," he recalled.
"I can't remember exactly, but we could have lost over 10pc of our heifer calves. We probably lost more of the bull calves, but because we're operating a crossbred herd, the bull calves aren't worth a lot anyway, so we were less concerned about them.
"It was really tough going, because we were feeding them four times a day to keep them alive, which meant that we were working from 6.30am-11pm.
"It was a serious crash course for me in managing calves with scour.
"The way we used to do it on the home farm was take them off milk until they dried up.
"That's all changed. I gave them milk replacer every second feed, with a electrolyte in between," said Mr Heaney.