Contract milkers Ben and Johannah Jagger reared 300 calves on MaxCare Premium and Finisher Calf Milk Replacers (CMRs) and were pleased to note that their calves were said to be some of the best around.
The Jaggers are contract milkers on Bunnings Farm in Swannanoa, Rangiora and 2018 was their first season here. Of the 300 calves they reared, 220 were herd replacements.
In the past, Johannah successfully reared calves on penicillin milk. However, due to a growing concern about penicillin resistance, she and farm owners Brian and Anne Stokes made the decision to feed a milk replacer instead. They chose MaxCare Premium CMR on staff advice at their local PGG Wrightson store.
Made in Australia, MaxCare CMRs are exclusive to PGG Wrightson and were available in New Zealand for the first time last season. MaxCare offers a comprehensive range of milk replacers, including Finisher, Premium and Ultimate, designed to deliver maximum growth, nutrition and health support for calves in the first few weeks of life.
“MaxCare Premium is a top-quality milk replacer,” says PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative, Dayne Paton. “It is high in protein which enhances feed efficiency, and high in fat making it an excellent source of energy for growing calves. It also contains Bovatec, which is shown to control the clinical signs of coccidiosis and help calves to reach their full potential.”
Johannah came up against a few challenges last season. Initially, it was dealing with the number of calves that came in daily during peak calving. Then, it was the calves contracting rotavirus in September. Johannah surmises that the calves got sick due to bad timing with a number of stresses all coinciding at once. They ran out of colostrum milk suddenly, as estimating their storage in the covered vat had been a guessing game. This resulted in a fast transition to milk powder, which happened around the same time one group had been debudded just before going outside. All of this, followed by a patch of wet weather, was enough to knock their immunity.
However, she credits MaxCare Premium for the quick recovery of the calves. “I was really happy with our growth rates on MaxCare. Even though the calves had been sick, they were in great condition come weaning. Our stock agent said they were some of the best calves he’d seen that season.”
Johannah fed 600 g CMR per calf, per day for the first five weeks. This rate was then gradually decreased to encourage meal intake and switched to MaxCare Finisher before weaning the calves at 100 kg liveweight at approximately ten weeks old.
Johannah adds that the MaxCare products were easy to mix, even with cold water. “We fed the calves cold milk all season as we don’t have the facilities to mix it warm for that many calves. It was perfectly palatable, and the calves took to it immediately.”
“Ultimately, we think the MaxCare range are really good quality products. We experienced steady growth rates and ended up with strong, healthy animals.”
This season Johannah plans to do things slightly differently. “Now I know approximately when I’ll run out of colostrum milk, I’ll start transitioning the calves from whole milk to milk powder hopefully at least a week before then” she says. “We’ll also debud them after they’re outside when they’re a bit older to avoid too many stresses all at once. If the weather is on our side again, I’m confident we’ll achieve our target weights a bit earlier too.”
Dayne says that other farmers in the Rangiora area tried MaxCare Premium last season. Like Johannah, they all had positive feedback and reported good growth rates.