IAN and Philip Connelly run the 300-cow Connelly Farms’ dairy herd near Portglenone. In 2019 they were considering building a new calf house as the herd has grown over recent years and the farm needed an improved calf rearing facility.
“The cost of doing a new calf shed was going to be around £70,000. We decided to look at other options and came across the CalfOTel products sold by Irwin Farm Supplies,” commented Philp.
“We decided to try four modules last year which can hold 16 calves individually. The biggest difference was that we didn’t need to inject any calves with antibiotics. In our older house it’s a constant battle to keep calves thriving. The CalfOTel system keeps them much healthier, dryer and they are easier to manage and clean out.
“They stay in there until eight to 10 weeks of age, then they get moved into the young stock house in groups of 12. We got more units this winter and will get a few more so that we can put all our calves though it. The system also costs much less than what the calf shed would have,” concluded Ian.
The most recent addition to the CalfOTel range is the CalfOTel Hybrid that can accommodate calves in four individual pens. The modular divides can then be removed to allow them to be grouped as one. This means the calves can stay in the unit as one small group until three months of age, allowing them to be weaned as one group.
Keeping them in a smaller group helps to reduce the risk of disease. The units are easy to clean and disinfect and requires less labour than traditional housing. A new adjustable flap allows easy standing access when feeding calves and also serves to adjust airflow. The unit allows good airflow which can help reduce incidence of scour and pneumonia.
One of the first farmers in Northern Ireland to try the new system was Victor Turtle, who along with his wife Margaret, family and team of workers, runs the 500 cow milking herd Drumrammer Farm near Ahoghill. The herd is milked through eight Lely milking robots.
As the herd has expanded calf shed facilities have become stretched to their limit. To ease the pressure, Victor decided to try the new CalfOTel Hybrid system.
“Calves have done very well since we started using the system. We haven’t had to use any antibiotics for the calves since they went into them, they are very bright, lively and thriving well.
“It’s also much easier to manage them and clean them out when needed, plus the design of the bucket means they can’t knock the bucket off the gate.
“As the CalfOTel keeps them dry and clean we bed them three times a week.
“After about two to three weeks we then move the calves into the young stock shed in groups of six. I’m very happy with the CalfOTel Hybrid system,” concluded Victor.
n For more information visit calfotel.com or call Irwin Farm Supplies on 028 3754 9998 for more information.