Scotland - Nethercraig Farm - South Lanarkshire

Published 16 February 17

Area: Glasgow

Trading Title: Robert Steven

Farm Address: Nethercraig Farm, Eaglesham, Glasgow

Milking herd numbers: 120

Herd yields: 9,500 litres at 4.1% fat and 3.3% protein

Breeding: The herd is predominantly Holstein. To reduce animal size, over the last seven years smaller stature Holstein bulls have been used and some animals have been crossbred to Scandinavian Red or Brown Swiss.

Replacement rate (%): 27%

Calving interval (days): 380 days

Calving pattern: Predominantly all year round with a two month break in the Summer and over Christmas. This enables the calf accommodation to be cleaned and rested.

Average age at first calving current (months): 25 months

Average age at first calving target (months): 24 months

Average heifer yield: 8,000 litres

Calf housing set up: The farm is a traditional steading with a number of “ramshackle” sheds. Calves rotate around four different sheds to enable pens to be disinfected and rested. Young calves will be housed in double or triple pens. Once calves are strong enough, some may be moved into a larger group pen/crate (depending on space availability).

Calf feeding system: Calves are snatch calved and bottle fed with 3 litres of colostrum within one hour. A second colostrum feed of 3 litres will then be offered at the first feed. Calves are then teat fed 2.5-3 litres of whole milk (from the tank). Once at 42 days, calves are dropped to once a day feeding and generally weaned at 50 days old.

An automated milk feeding system was used up until about three years ago, but the Stevens decided to stop using it due to the low milk price. They are considering swapping back to it in 2017.

Calves are offered an 18% protein starter pellet, water and straw in rack or bales (depending on shed set-up).

Main person responsible for calf management: Robert manages the farm, and his father Robert does the day to day management of the calves.

Weaning target (weeks/weight/feed intake): Calves are weaned on intakes, rather than size. The aim is to wean when calves are eating at least 1.5kg of concentrate a day and showing signs of cudding. On average, calves are weaning at 50 days old.

Other areas of interest: The aim is to breed fertile cows. Most animals are put to sexed semen, with beef semen used after 1-2 services. Beef calves are reared in the same way as heifer and sold at 400kg as bulling heifers or steers.