Saturday, December 9, 2023

Pukeatua farmers reaping benefits of calf milk replacement

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The Smiths say they are seeing the health benefits of carefully selecting the right CMR. 
Brett and Dana Smith farm at Pukeatua and have found feeding their calves a milk replacer good for their health.
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This article first appeared in our sister publication, Dairy Farmer.

For Pukeatua dairy farmers Dana and Brett Smith, who are onto their second season of using calf milk replacer, feeding Ancalf has become a “no-brainer”.

The Smiths run 650 KiwiCross on their farm near the Arapuni stretch of the Waikato River. They made the decision to switch from feeding vat milk to Ancalf based on financial returns, and have been delighted with the ease and calf health outcomes of making the change. 

“We always used milk from the vat, but it was a bit of a no-brainer once we went to autumn calving,” Dana says.

“Obviously anything that goes into the vat is beneficial for us – it just makes sense as a business to do this right from the get-go, so we know exactly how much milk is going to the vat and that we’re getting the best premium for it because that’s obviously more into our pockets.

“We used to split-calve, so going into autumn using Ancalf we could keep as much milk in the vat as possible, which is what we needed to get that winter milk contract. We then carried it through into springtime and it just seemed to work amazingly – the calves love it, so we’ve stuck to it.”

With a range of calf milk replacer (CMR) products on the market, farmers rely on advice and recommendations to make the right decision for the future of their herd. Ancalf, being a casein-rich CMR, closely aligns with the composition of natural whole milk. It has a good reputation with farmers and rearers who are serious about their calves’ development. 

The Smiths say they are seeing the health benefits of carefully selecting the right CMR. 

“We spoke to other people that used Ancalf and it seemed to be the most popular one that everyone really loved. So we thought we’d give it a go and we haven’t changed because it has been amazing. We haven’t had sick calves, we haven’t had any problems with the changeover from the colostrum straight onto the Ancalf – it just seemed to work,” Dana says.

“It’s the consistency for the calves – it’s a no-brainer really, just to make sure they’re getting the nutrients they need and everything. I would recommend it.”

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