Youngstock at Owl Farm are the future of our farm system. Each year, 90 calves with elite genetics are selected as replacements to ensure that the best possible heifers are entering the herd.
All newborn calves are brought into the sheds where they receive 2L of colostrum milk straight away. After two weeks of twice a day feeding, heifer calves destined to be replacements are transitioned onto feeding once a day milk with access to ad lib meal, hay and fresh water.
Calves are vaccinated against leptospirosis, dehorned, receive their 5-in-1 vaccination, and DNA samples are taken between 10-40 days old. We carry out total protein blood tests to check that the calves are getting enough good colostrum for optimum health. In 2021, five out of every six calves tested had optimum levels.
Calves are weaned off milk at 90kg + and kept on chicory crops on surrounding support paddocks. Click here: Growing Calves at Home Factsheet to find out more about our experience growing calves on chicory.
Calves leave the farm at 10 months old and return as in-calf heifers at 22 months old to join the herd.
Monitoring growth rates is critical to ensure heifers reach their puberty and liveweight targets before entering the herd. Calves are weighed every 4-6 weeks while at home, and every 8-10 weeks when out grazing.
We use a synchrony breeding programme with sexed semen for the first week of mating, for the heifers out grazing, then run bulls for the remainder of the nine-week mating period.