The Gores run 480 cows on their 170+ hectare farm in Hinuera, Waikato. Until this year, they’ve continued doing what they’ve always done when it comes to feeding their young calves. “We were just feeding out of the vat,” says Lucy. “But it was a good payout season which made it worthwhile to change. It was pretty much financially better to leave the milk in the vat and send it to the factory rather than take it out and feed it to the calves” she says.
The economics may have got them to consider calf milk replacers, but their experience with calf feeding this year has changed their perspective on its other merits. “We’ve always had the mindset of calves doing better from the milk straight out of the vat,” Lucy says, “but we were pleasantly surprised and proven wrong that calf milk powder can actually do just as well.” Speaking of their chosen CMR, Ancalf, Lucy continues, “It’s almost identical to the raw whole milk and it contains a coccidiostat, as well as the vitamins and the minerals – a great combination.
“I’d say it’s as good as whole milk. To be honest, I was probably expecting rougher coats and not filling out as well in terms of the body having good cover. Comparing weights from this year to last year, we’re sitting around the same weight gains.”
Ancalf is a casein-rich CMR that is similar to the composition of natural whole milk. Rearers and farmers like the Gores see the benefits of carefully selecting the right replacer. Lucy comments, “I spoke to some farming friends using Ancalf, they said they had really good results from it, and the casein that’s in the Ancalf is really good for curding.” She continues, “I guess that probably was the game changer, it sounded a better option for the calves rather than a whey product.”
Research and asking farming friends helped the decision making process for the Gores, but it was a bit of added support from the NZAgbiz team that helped make it easy to get started. “Because it was our first time using Ancalf, Carla from NZAgbiz came out and took us through what rate we should be feeding and how we should be transitioning. We found that a massive help.”
“We were really impressed that it’s easy to mix as well. We measured half the volume of warm water required for feeding into our McKee milk mixer trailer. Then we added the required amount of milk replacer. Once it was mixed thoroughly we topped up with water to full feed volume required. Aiming for the milk to be sitting around the 38 degrees for feeding.
After their first season feeding Ancalf the Gores are convinced. “Would we recommend Ancalf? Yes we would definitely recommend it.”