Farm Ireland

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Meath man on rearing 200 Friesian bull calves to beef

David recently purchased a milk cart for ease of feeding
David recently purchased a milk cart for ease of feeding

Gordon Peppard

David Drum rears approximately 200, February and March born Friesian bull calves.

The calves are sourced in the south by an agent working on behalf of David and are all a minimum of three to six weeks old when purchased. After arrival onto the farm they are introduced to milk replacer and built up to 750g over a couple of days.

A day after arrival, the calves receive their first shot of Bovipast RSP to protect against pneumonia and they also receive a shot of Bovilis IBR Marker live intranasally.  Clostridial diseases are covered by Tribovax 10 at dehorning and again four weeks later.

The calves are reared in groups of 27, being fed on teat feeders. David recently purchased a milk cart for ease of feeding and to remove the heavy labour of feeding a large number of calves.

The calves receive three litres of milk replacer in the morning and evening. They have access to clean fresh water, straw and an 18pc calf ration at all times.

David is careful to keep a clean fresh bed of straw under the calves at all times to keep them warm, dry and free from draughts.

Calves are debudded two weeks after arrival, adhering to the veterinary recommendations of debudding at this stage.

Following a gradual weaning programme, calves are weaned off when they are 95 to 100kgs and eating at least 2kgs of meal. They are then turned out to grass from the end of May.

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As copper is an issue on farm, they receive a copper bolus at turn out. At grass the bull calves continue to receive 1.5kgs of concentrate throughout the first grazing season. Running a 19-month bull system requires that animals are kept growing to ensure that all performance targets are met.

The adjoining table outlines the key average daily gains and weights required at each stage to ensure that the finished bull reaches a slaughter weight of a minimum of 600kgs at 19 months of age. Due to the longer persistent activity against gut worms for up to 150 days, calves are injected under the skin of the ear with Cydectin LA 10pc after they have been at grass for three to four weeks. This product is used on the farm for ease of management in terms of numbers of small animals to be handled and facilities available, especially where calves are grazing on rented ground.

They will then receive an ivermectin pour on three weeks after housing. Over winter the bulls are given a high quality diet to ensure good average daily gains.

They are turned out to grass in March for three to four months grazing. Having being rehoused in June the heaviest bulls are built up to an ad lib diet for finishing. The finishing period is approximately 100 days with the first bulls slaughtered from mid-September.

Following rehousing some of the lighter bulls may be fed zero grazed grass for a number of months in order to allow them to grow on before being put on the finishing diet.

Indo Farming