Matthew Watkins, who farms at Trewern Farm in Pembrokeshire, was looking to improve growth rates of his dairy calves, which are sold to Blade Farming. The calves are required to reach 50kg before they leave the farm, and a homemade telehandler attachment has enabled efficient ad-lib feeding, leading to improved calf turnover.
Staff on the farm designed and made a telehandler attachment to carry an IBC of milk to the calf pens. The attachment holds the IBC safely and securely while the milk is tipped into the 200L tubs. The tubs have teats 3/4 the way up, with pipes that reach into the bottom of the tubs, which, with the improved system, efficiently provides ad-lib milk to the calves. The design also allows for easy cleaning of the IBC between milk fills.
By allowing calves access to milk all day, their growth rate has improved, as has their health. “We looked at the age of calves sold to Blade, and by ad-lib feeding, we have vastly improved the turnover of calves. Plus our finishing percentage is the best of all Blade producers. We have less than 1% of our calves that don't reach the end of the system,” explains Matthew Watkins.