Netherlands invite for calf rearing insight

REGIME: The rearing regime for a calf in the first 60 days of its life is key to dairy cow lifetime performance.

THE Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is offering dairy farmers who rear their own herd replacements the opportunity to travel to the Netherlands to learn about innovative management practices in calf rearing.

A particular focus of the study tour will be the impact of higher pre-weaning growth rate on subsequent milk yield throughout the cow’s life.

This study tour is part of the Farm Innovation Visits Scheme which is being delivered by DAERA’s College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE).

The tour will include visits to several progressive dairy farms that implement stringent protocols on their calf rearing units and will also include input from Leonel Leal, Trouw Nutreco researcher. The farm visits are being co-ordinated with the assistance of Ceesjan Huiden of VDK Products, a supplier of calf housing products. Participants will see a range of calf housing options in operation across the units visited.

Seeing advanced management practices and hearing directly from farmers in the Netherlands will help participants reflect on their own practices and consider the opportunities to improve the performance of their heifer rearing enterprise and the long term performance of their dairy herd.

The group, which will leave from Belfast International Airport on March 17 and return on March 19, will be led by CAFRE advisers Michael Garvey and Alan Hopps. Fifteen places are available and will be awarded on a competitive basis.

Applications are invited from one member or employee of a farm business who is 18 years old on the application closing date and not in full-time education. To increase the benefits arising from the study tour, all applicants must identify a group of farmers to share their findings with upon their return.

The Farm Innovation Visit scheme, part of the NI Rural Development Programme and part EU funded, will cover the costs of setting up the visit, accommodation, travel outside of Northern Ireland, breakfast, lunch and evening meals when in the Netherlands. Participants will be expected to meet any additional costs including farm relief and travel insurance.

n Dairy farmers who rear their own replacement heifers and who are interested in participating can find out more details and complete an application at

n Applications close on Wednesday, February 13, at 4pm.


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