What to feed heifer calves this autumn?

Location
West Wales
Historically we’ve always fed cake and straw and they’ve done very well and it suits our system as we’ve not got any fixed facilities for them so we can just use tubs and a ring feeder.
with cake price climbing higher we need to consider the alternatives as see how others are doing it.
We fed silage this jan/ feb onwards to turn out and was really disappointed how dirty they became and we end up treating 25%+ with bad eyes.
also seem to struggle when they are too big for the sheep ring feeder but too small for the big one so just climb in and sh!t all over the silage.

alternative is we just stick to cake and straw and take the 6k a month hit
 

vantage

Member
Location
Pembs
alternative is we just stick to cake and straw and take the 6k a month hit
I’ll be sticking to this, it’s worked fine for 30 years. A slight change in buildings will enable me to have a scraped area as well as bedding, which should save a lot of straw over bedding only. The biggest saving would be to only rear the absolute minimum of calves, oh my goodness, I can only hope that we get a TB clear, as I don’t know what we’ll do otherwise.
 
Location
West Wales
I’ll be sticking to this, it’s worked fine for 30 years. A slight change in buildings will enable me to have a scraped area as well as bedding, which should save a lot of straw over bedding only. The biggest saving would be to only rear the absolute minimum of calves, oh my goodness, I can only hope that we get a TB clear, as I don’t know what we’ll do otherwise.
This could well be the solution. Figures above were based upon running 120 heifer calves so likely over double what’s required but Tb is the elephant in the room
 

cull cows

Member
Historically we’ve always fed cake and straw and they’ve done very well and it suits our system as we’ve not got any fixed facilities for them so we can just use tubs and a ring feeder.
with cake price climbing higher we need to consider the alternatives as see how others are doing it.
We fed silage this jan/ feb onwards to turn out and was really disappointed how dirty they became and we end up treating 25%+ with bad eyes.
also seem to struggle when they are too big for the sheep ring feeder but too small for the big one so just climb in and sh!t all over the silage.

alternative is we just stick to cake and straw and take the 6k a month hit
Out of interest how much cake a day do you feed them?
Do you feed once or twice a day?
Iv been rearing calves on ad-lib cake and selling at 6months old but I’m not going to be able to do that anymore
 

Bald Rick

Moderator
Livestock Farmer
Location
Anglesey
Historically we’ve always fed cake and straw and they’ve done very well and it suits our system as we’ve not got any fixed facilities for them so we can just use tubs and a ring feeder.
with cake price climbing higher we need to consider the alternatives as see how others are doing it.
We fed silage this jan/ feb onwards to turn out and was really disappointed how dirty they became and we end up treating 25%+ with bad eyes.
also seem to struggle when they are too big for the sheep ring feeder but too small for the big one so just climb in and sh!t all over the silage.

alternative is we just stick to cake and straw and take the 6k a month hit

What age are you aiming for at first calving?
If you’re happy to go to 26-28 months, you could use a “cheaper” cake and ground straw but 23-25 it would be a false economy.
Mind you, you set the animal for life over the first six months
 
Location
East Mids
Out of interest how much cake a day do you feed them?
Do you feed once or twice a day?
Iv been rearing calves on ad-lib cake and selling at 6months old but I’m not going to be able to do that anymore
We rear on 3kg/head of 18% HDF dairy cake and (usually) wheat straw. Half each end of the day.

From 7 months old they are at grass and 1kg/head. Next winter as in-calf heifers 1kg/hd + ad lib silage, or good quality hay, if on silage the we drop the cake off once they are in calf.

If it wasn't for the fact that they are fed by Prince Pooper going into the yard with a sack over his shoulder in the second winter, we would stick to straw and cake but he only wants to feed once a day and there is only so much he can carry in his sack! Calving at average 24 months.
 

Dead Rabbits

Member
Location
'Merica
I can never get my head around feeding straw to anything but dry cows and it’s a struggle to get them to eat it. The clean up bulls eat it cause they get nothing else at times and the weight needs to come off.

Why not make some hay if the weather cooperates or drier silage bales if possible?. Get a bit of protein in them with a forage. I mainly winter the fall calves on grass and they self limit to 2kg of 20% if there is good grass out. Part way through winter they switch to DDG and corn silage if the grass is scarce. Rather harsh winter conditions they live in so can’t really short them. The first 6 months always seem to be the most expensive and it seems counterproductive to skimp. I like them to have a good layer of fat for the cold. I’ve no experience of housing them
 
Location
West Wales
Why not make some nice hay this year
How much better is hay than straw? We buy a lorry load in normally but haven’t dared to drop the cake rate.
Tmr and build a feed fence only have todo it once
In a perfect world this is the answer but the shed needs to be adaptable to suit calves as well as we don’t have a dedicated post weaning shed.
I have 10' long troughs on legs and I drop tmr on the floor in the clamp and tip it into the trough with the loader,they always do better on tmr as they don't get bullied.
What do you put into your tmr? We did this at a previous farm and I agree it does work well. We’ve only just had concrete on the floor to even consider this option
Out of interest how much cake a day do you feed them?
Do you feed once or twice a day?
Iv been rearing calves on ad-lib cake and selling at 6months old but I’m not going to be able to do that anymore
3-4kg depending on how big they were at weaning. Tail Enders never do that well so get a bit more cake
What age are you aiming for at first calving?
If you’re happy to go to 26-28 months, you could use a “cheaper” cake and ground straw but 23-25 it would be a false economy.
Mind you, you set the animal for life over the first six months
Block calving dictates 24 months calving maybe a bit less
I'd have thought buying round bales of hay and feeding less/no cake would be cheaper than buying straw
Don’t think hay is that high in energy to cut out the cake.
 
Location
East Mids
People who feed hay to heifers need their head looking at
We don't normally but we had too much 2nd cut silage to fit in the clamp so ended up with a barn full of big bale seeds hay (weather was fantastic and we already had some bale silage and that's so expensive with wrap and disposal fees).

It has been noticeable how much drier they have been compared with on silage. We normally stop the cake after Christmas but kept it going to turnout this year as they were on hay. Still got some hay left as well as some silage in the clamp, compared with the previous spring when we had to buy silage in for the milkers.
 

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Man fined £300 for bonfire-related waste offences

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Written by William Kellett from Agriland

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A man has pleaded guilty at Newtownards Magistrates’ Court to waste offences relating to a bonfire next to the electrical sub-station on the Circular Road in Newtownards, Co. Down.

Gareth Gill (51) of Abbot’s Walk, Newtownards pleaded guilty to two charges under the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997, for which he was fined £150 each and ordered to pay a £15 offender’s levy

On June 25, 2018, PSNI officers went to Gill’s yard, where they found a large amount of waste consisting of scrap wood, pallets, carpet and underlay.

Discussion with Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) officers confirmed the site...
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