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  7. Purposeful Lives for Calves

Purposeful Lives for Calves

All calves are valued and cared for at Owl Farm.  Each newborn animal receives 2L of gold colostrum upon first arrival at the warm dry calf sheds, and another 2L in the afternoon. We test blood protein levels every year with the aim of achieving all calves having adequate IgG (antibody) levels for optimum calf health (the last two seasons we achieved 80% and 83% respectively). 

We also have an important principle – increased ‘purpose of life’ (i.e. fewer bobby calves).  This has resulted in an updated breeding strategy, using a combination of sexed semen and Wagyu semen to reduce the number of bobby calves born while creating a marketable, value-added product in terms of high quality beef animals.

Sexed semen aims to produce a higher proportion of heifer calves born, and this is used on the cows with the highest genetic value (breeding worth, BW).

Wagyu beef is well-known as being of particularly high quality.  Thus, Wagyu calves have more value to calf rearers and command a better price.  We rear these calves on farm to about 13 days old before they are transported to the rearer.

This strategy has increased purposeful lives for our calves from 34% in 2018 to 70% in 2021.

You can read all the details of the breeding programme here.