CAFRE demonstrate best practice calf rearing

Date published: 08 February 2023

The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) in conjunction with AFBI kick-started 2023 with their Calf Rearing Open Day that, due to the demand for the first event on 18 January, featured a second day on 1 February.

Over 800 people attended the two events based around the CAFRE Calf Unit, Greenmount. CAFRE Dairy Advisers and Technologists presented on the aspects of rearing dairy heifers from pre calving through to weaning. AFBI presented on their Optihouse project, illustrating the common causes of poor house design and what lies ahead in the use of modelling technology for calf house design. The tour finished with CAFRE Technologists from the Sustainable Land Management Branch presenting a ‘snap shot’ of energy use and efficiency in the dairy unit. 

Not every producer is aware that rearing a heifer contributes to about 20% of the production costs in a dairy business and it takes on average one and a half lactations for the heifer to repay her investment from the rearing period. Calving at 24 months or before has been shown to be the optimum for economic and lifetime performance and can only be achieved if heifers meet key targets at critical stages in the rearing phase.

Through education, training and knowledge transfer the CAFRE dairy unit is helping improve productivity, resilience, environmental performance and sustainability within the Northern Ireland dairy sector.  In the pursuit of developing a more sustainable dairy herd, work has been done to demonstrate best management practices and use of technology in the areas of calf rearing and heifer management.

For more information on either the CAFRE herd or sustainability within the dairy enterprise please go to the CAFRE website or speak to your regional CAFRE Dairy Adviser.

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