· At six weeks, calves are weaned completely and let out to grass with ad lib ration. The Batemans have an ad-lib feeder that can hold 1.25tn of meal. At this stage, calves are in groups of 150 and are given fresh grass every day.
· From 10 weeks of age calves are weighed every second week because he said that it gets extremely expensive when feeding ad-lib if it’s not controlled
· After this, when calves meet their weaning weight of 85kg to 90kg they are taken off ad-lib ration and they are sent the contract rearing where they’re fed 1.5kg/day to settle them for two to three weeks, after which they are on a grass only diet.
He said the calves are not being pushed on the milk and are a lot healthier with much less scour issues. He said the straw bed stays much drier and this is a big help from a health point of view and also a labour point as there is less straw to be spread.
Once calves are let out to grass, they are kept in one group, which he said is a huge help from a labour point of view – meaning he only needs to visit the one paddock for check-ups.
Grassland management hours have also been reduced as there is only one paddock to manage when fresh grass is given every two days.
The new system he says, is saving the Batemans €35-40 per calf, which saves them in the region of €10,000 savings every year.
| || ||Old system|| ||New system|
|Milk fed||5lt for 70 days @40c||€140||4lt for 35 days @40c||€56|
|Ration||.75kg for 50days @34c/kg||€12.75|
1kg for 25 days
2kg for 70 days
Total €152.75 €112Savings €40/calf
Michael’s figures for his new and old system of feeding calves.
He said some of the disadvantages of the new system included paying a ration bill of up to €14,000. Although, he said he may have being paying it already they never had to physically see the money go as it was coming from the bulk tank, or at least a large portion of it was.
“We’ve a ration bill now that we never had before, we spend €12,000 to €14,000 for calf ration every year. Possibly we had that bill from the bulk tank first, but we never saw it coming out,” he told the room.
Twice a week the Batemans clean out the ration feeders and feed cull cows in the yard. Another point is he said water has to be kept clean, and it’s a must, however he did say that it should be done at either system.
“When calves are being fed ad-lib they will drop some into the water trough which will sour the water. We clean the troughs out twice a week to keep it fresh as we can,” he said.
He also said sometimes calves don’t follow the feeder, which is a problem but soon do.
Overall, he said that he is happy with the system he’s is now, especially because of the labour-saving aspect of it.
“Very happy with the system, it’s ticking all the boxes for me. It certainly less labour and esier managed. Feeder can feed for two days and you can feed on a sta and not seem them again until Monday.
“Calves are slightly better, weighing in an extra 5kg – but the biggest thing for me is that there a lot less scour and calves are a lot healthier on this system,” he said.