North - Yorkshire - Cerlew Farm


Since coming home from Bishop Burton college, Tom Hildreth takes his responsibility for the youngstock on his Dad, Roger’s farm very seriously.

Host farm: Roger and Tom Hildreth, Cerlew Farm, Yorkshire

Herd Size:  85


Calving pattern:  Autumn / All Year Round 

Age at first calving:  25 months (Target: 23 months)

Average production during first lactation:  8261 kg (4% butterfat and 3.35% protein) 

Weaning target: 8 weeks

Feeding routine:  Calves are fed with accelerated growth in mind. At birth calves typically weigh 40 to 42 kg and are bucket fed colostrum. Calves receive a quality skim based milk powder increasing to 875g in 7 litres over 20 days. The 7 litres is split between two feeds daily. Tom and his Dad experimented with feeding 1kg powder but found that the calves were reluctant to eat ad-lib starter pellets. 

Calves are weaned at 8 weeks or once they have at least doubled their birth weight. Calves are introduced to a 17.5% protein home mix of rolled cereal, soya/rape and minerals. Ad lib straw is available at all times.

Housing:  Calves are housed in individual pens for 2 weeks before moving to a group pen with calves of a similar age. Typical group size is 2-3 calves and never more than 5 until at least 10 days after weaning when they move to a straw yard in larger groups. The modern buildings were put up on a green field site back in 2009, they have been designed with ventilation, welfare and labour in mind. This year, for the first time, calf jackets are being used on calves until 4 weeks of age 

Breeding:  Sires are selected with management traits, type and kgs of fat and protein in mind. PLI is now being used as it is weighted towards lifespan and other management traits. Type, especially pin set, udder, chest and rump width are considered important selection factors. Genomic sires are selected for 50% of the dairy replacements. Roger started using genomic sires for the first time in 2011. He is very pleased with the heifers, now in their 2nd lactation.

Replacement rate:  16.7% according to Promar. More heifers are brought into the herd as they continue to grow.