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Rearing Operation Sees Results Using MaxCare Calf Milk Replacer

Rearing Operation Sees Results Using MaxCare Calf Milk Replacer

Rearing Operation Sees Results Using MaxCare Calf Milk Replacer

Brett Morgan and his partner Jackie purchased a calf-rearing business six years ago in Morrinsville, Waikato. Making improvements to the operation, including introducing MaxCare Premium Calf Milk Replacer, they are now consolidating the business, Mr Calf King, and reaping the rewards.  

Describing the operation, Brett says, “We purchase calves at four days old with the aim of getting them to 100 kg as quickly as possible. In autumn, we have around 1,000 calves and rise to that level again in spring. Now, in June, we have just sold our first lot of calves so we’re down to about 800.”

Running at a one percent loss, this well-set-up business on 16 ha rears healthy calves. Brett purchases Friesian, Hereford and Charolais calves through PGG Wrightson Livestock Representatives, Reagan Craig and Brook Cushion. 

Brett attributes his success to keeping the calves well-fed, including whole milk, calf milk replacer, meal and straw, then transitioning to grass at weaning. Clean fresh water is always on offer too.

“I source whole milk from farmers and use it in conjunction with MaxCare Premium Calf Milk Replacer. I never have any issues switching the calves between the two along with feeding meal and straw as I am conscious of altering their diet gradually,” says Brett. 

With a 3,500 L vat with an agitator connected to the shed, Brett says MaxCare Premium Calf Milk Replacer is easy to mix, with no lumps. Having tried many calf milk replacers, Brett has found MaxCare to be the best, and having used it for more than three years, he is achieving good results. From the vat, MaxCare Premium Calf Milk Replacer is pumped directly to the shed and delivered to the 44 pens via a 25 mm line hose. This system allows two people to feed 660 calves in an hour and a half. 

“We feed once a day, starting at 6 am and slowly work from one end of the shed to the other with 6 x 15 teat feeders. The shed isn’t noisy, as this way the calves stay calm. Moving from pen to pen, we stand with the calves, observing them and ensuring they drink. If one doesn’t, I return later to check on the calf and monitor for a possible illness,” shares Brett. 

To help manage the common challenges found in a calf shed - coccidiosis and rotavirus - Brett emphasises the importance of acting quickly if a calf is not drinking well and keeping good airflow in the shed. With the calf shed utilising a mesh system rather than bedding, Brett finds the shed easy to keep clean. 

Calves are weaned at 80 to 90 kg. This target is achieved, says Brett, by keeping the calves in the shed for longer than most rearers which he can do as he does not have the expense of animal bedding. From 90 kg, the calves are moved to the paddock where they are continued on milk for a week, then slowly transitioned to meal, straw, and grass. 

To manage dry conditions on farm, Brett keeps calf numbers low over the summer. He explains by purchasing quality calves, he and Jackie achieve target weight on time, leaving only 25 animals in the paddocks from December through to February. 

Brett is thankful for the relationships he has built with various farm advisors. This includes the team at the PGG Wrightson Morrinsville store led by Store Manager Liz Bowater, Livestock Representatives Reagan Craig and Brook Cushion, and Brett’s Veterinarian Robert Visser. 

“I have been guided right from the start by this team who have the technical knowledge to advise me on all aspects of my operation. I enjoy being able to draw on their knowledge and it has contributed to my success,” says Brett.

“Liz and her team are switched on and know the amount of calf milk replacer I use per day. I purchase everything I need from the store for the calf shed including teats, disinfectant, colostrum keeper, and OptiCalf supplement. If I haven't visited the store on a particular day, or there is a statutory holiday soon, I’ll receive a phone call to remind me I need more calf milk replacer. The team is always helpful and knows me well.”