Introduction: In this captivating story, we delve into the journey of Dale and Vicki Byers, dairy farmers from Ballinamallard, as they discovered the transformative potential of Agriplastic hutches in revolutionising their calf-rearing practices.
A Challenging Beginning: Dale and Vicki managed a sizeable herd of approximately 150 cows and heifers, primarily during the winter months. This constant influx of replacement heifer calves presented a significant obstacle—limited rest periods for the calves, leading to the accumulation of diseases such as scour and pneumonia. These ailments not only incurred high treatment costs but also hampered calf performance and demanded increased labour.
An Exploration of Calf Rearing Solutions: Understanding the importance of ventilation and best practices in calf rearing, Dale and Vicki sought alternatives to address their challenges. They evaluated several options, including the construction of a costly purpose-built shed, the use of calf-rearing hutches, and the adoption of single calf hutches. Each option came with its own set of pros and cons, leaving the couple at a crossroads.
The Agriplastic Hutch Revelation: Determined to find a practical and effective solution, Dale stumbled upon the success of single hutches on large American farms. Inspired by their track record, he turned to Teemore Engineering and invested in Agriplastic hutches—a decision that would change the course of their calf-rearing journey.
A Notable Transformation in Calf Health: With the introduction of Agriplastic hutches, the Byers’ farm experienced a remarkable shift. Cases of pneumonia plummeted, practically reaching zero. The initial isolation provided by individual hutches contributed to a significant reduction in scour cases, preventing disease spread and fostering healthier calves. The Agriplastic hutches emerged as a critical tool, ensuring optimal calf health, reduced treatment costs, and improved overall performance.
Unmatched Features and User-Friendly Design: Dale and Vicki praised the exceptional makeup of Agriplastic hutches. The hutches exhibited remarkable durability, withstanding the demanding movements for cleaning and maintenance across seasons. Cleaning was a breeze, as the hutches could be effortlessly removed using a low loader or forks. The presence of a back door facilitated bedding without compromising hygiene, minimising the risk of cross-contamination. Furthermore, the spacious interior allowed calves to rest comfortably, while separate feeding troughs outside ensured individualised nutrition. The inclusion of brackets for milk buckets at the perfect height further simplified the feeding process.
Crafting the Ideal System: Acknowledging the challenges posed by the harsh Fermanagh winters, Dale and Vicki took innovative steps to refine their calf-rearing system. They designed a lean-to-style roof, allowing for optimal air circulation while providing much-needed shelter to the calves. This adaptation improved labour efficiency and ensured the calves’ well-being during colder months.
Labour Investment and Profitability: Contrary to common misconceptions, Dale and Vicki found that the labour requirements of the Agriplastic hutch system were comparable to other rearing methods. They emphasised that rearing calves to their full potential demands a high standard of labour, regardless of the chosen system. Moreover, the additional effort invested in the calf hutch system directly translated into improved calf health, leading to reduced costs and increased profitability.
An Enthusiastic Recommendation: Dale and Vicki wholeheartedly endorse Agriplastic hutches to fellow farmers who are considering calf housing options. The undeniable improvements in calf health, the ease of use and maintenance, and the substantial impact on overall profitability