AN innovative outdoor calf rearing facility will be making its Northern Ireland debut at the RUAS Winter Fair on Thursday, December 14.
The CalfOTel portable unit, which provides accommodation for four calves, will be featured on the Irwin Farm Supplies stand at the one-day event. Based at Eglish near Dungannon, Irwin Farm Supplies is a family-owned business and has recently secured the agency for CalfOTel in Northern Ireland.
Dutch company VDK Products manufactures the CalfOTel range of individual and group calf hutches, and earlier this year launched the movable single unit. The space-saving unit boasts a compact design and provides a perfect microclimate for baby calves.
Kyle Nesbitt from Irwin Farm Supplies said: “This is a new revolution in calf rearing. The hutch accommodates four calves side-by-side, and provides effective shelter, as well as sufficient ventilation. It boasts an awning which can be opened and closed to protect calves from wind and rain, and control ventilation.
“The unit has smooth surfaces which are easily cleaned and disinfected. Each individual pen has a wide opening (0.9m) and is accessible using a simple latch system. The raised zinc-plated threshold contains straw bedding thus minimising waste.”
The exterior dimensions of the CalfOTel unit are 390cm x 210cm x 215cm, and the interior dimensions of each calf space are 90cm x 140cm. All units are fitted with a stable lift frame which ensures smooth transport using a telehandler or forklift.
Brothers John and Roy McFarland, from the townland of Drumaspil on the outskirts of Dungannon, are among the first dairy farmers in the Province to invest in the CalfOTel unit.
“I saw something similar on a recent trip to Fleckvieh herds and a show in Germany,” said John McFarland, who runs a herd of 130 pure and cross-bred Fleckvieh cows.
John and Roy started using Fleckvieh genetics 12 years ago, and are producing over 8,000 litres per cow per year at 4.3% butterfat and 3.4% protein. Two Lely Astronaut A3 robots were installed in 2008.
“We purchased the CalfOTel unit five week ago and it’s a great investment. The unit is compact and takes up less space than individual hutches,” added John.
“Newborn calves are vulnerable to infections in the first six weeks of life. We like to ensure the baby calves get colostrum and are transferred to the hutches as soon as possible. They thrive better in the fresh air, and are less susceptible to pneumonia and scour.
John and Roy have also invested in Cozy Calf jackets which are available from Irwin Farm Supplies.
“The calves are healthy and thriving as their energy is converted into growth. The CalfOTel is welfare friendly and ideally suited to a batch of calves. They are individually housed, and are warm and dry. The divider walls have openings which is important for social interaction between calves.”
Kyle Nesbitt added: “The CalfOTel unit is manufactured from good quality materials, and it provides instant housing for farms that are short of calf rearing space. The product has attracted unprecedented demand since it arrived in our yard.
“The calves benefit from daylight, and even in extreme weather conditions the CalfOTel provides well ventilated shelter and optimal conditions for calf rearing.”
Visit the Irwin Farm Supplies stand at the RUAS Winter Fair to view the CalfOtTel movable single unit, and its customisable accessories. Alternatively, contact Maurice Wylie on 07900 255334, or David Simpson on 07771 568863