Calf rearing might seem like a simple job, but quality contract-reared calves demand high levels of management and stockmanship
Delivering consistent daily liveweight gains is central to ensuring a sufficient throughput of calves for contract rearers Joff and Emma Roberts of Uphampton Farm, Herefordshire.
Having begun calf rearing in 1999 with just 16 calves in an existing farm building, the couple are now rearing 960 calves a year in six batches. As workloads grew, Mrs Roberts was finding it difficult to juggle the challenges of calf rearing and an expanding family. After much deliberation, two options for the future were put forward: Either find additional paid labour to ease the workload or invest in new facilities, including a fully computerised milk feeding system.
In 2003, the couple took the advice of Gill Dickson, ruminant sales specialist for Wynnstay Feeds, and invested in their first calf feeding machine, a Holm and Laue unit, which was set up to feed 60 calves from two feeding stations. It soon became apparent the automated system was working well, with workloads vastly reduced and calf health and weight gain significantly improved.