Calf Rearing on Lindy and Michael Bennett’s farm


  • The farm is owned by Michael and Lindy, they came up through the sharemilking system and entered an equity partnership in 2014. They now own half of the farm and lease the other half.
  • Michael and Lindy, along with farm assistant Brooklyn, and from the current season Jaime 2IC, run the 143 ha farm milking 500 Jersey cows.
  • They AB for 4 weeks using the LIC Jersey bull of the day, followed by 4-5 days of SGL semen, and then they use 12 bulls with the herd. The lowest 25 BW cows are mated to Speckle Park – these are presold at weaning.
  • The six week in-calf rate was 78%, with a 9% empty rate. They use no intervention, apart from Metricheck and Metricure on the herd.
  • Cows are dried off using selective dry cow therapy as well as Teatseal, heifers are also Teatsealed.
  • They run a system 3 operation and produced 176,000 kg MS last season.
  • Calving starts on the 16th of July.
  • Herd is blanket vaccinated for rotavirus.


  • Seven bay calf rearing shed by the cowshed and a new 4 bay calf shed further down the farm.
  • All pens have plywood on the gates to ensure calves cannot touch each other.
  • They run a neck band system to identify calves. Pens 1-5 are for the keeper calves. Once these calves are approx. 10 days old, they are transferred to the new 4 bay shed.
  • Pens 6 and 7 are for the bobby calves. These pens are divided into four and the calves shuffle through the pens, leaving at 4 days old. The bobby calf platform is accessed from the fourth pen.
  • Last season 94 Jersey bull calves were sold at 4 days old.
  • Water is available in every pen and the keeper calves have access to meal and hay from day one.
  • Bedding is a layer of shavings which is topped up throughout the season, if required.
  • Sheds are fully cleaned out at the end of the season.

Newborn calves

  • Colostrum cows are milked OAD, attention to detail on which cows still have Teatseal and which calves may not have had a drink in the paddock.
  • Newborn calves are collected at least once per day, depending on weather.
  • Woolen blankets are available for any calves that are wet or cold.
  • Calves are stood up and tried with 2 litres gold colostrum when they arrive at the pens in the morning. If they don’t drink, they are given gold colostrum again that afternoon.
  • All new cows to the colostrum herd are milked separately into buckets. The milk is tested before being milked by squirting all 4 quarters on to a refractometer. Colostrum that is 22 plus is separated from colostrum that is below 22. Replacement calves are given the priority of the best colostrum.
  • Average weight of calves is 23 kg as newborn.
  • Calves are fed twice a day, as much as calves can drink over 2L per calf per feed. The calves receive warm colostrum in the morning which is straight from the cows. Colostrum is heated using a Shoof milk warmer for the afternoon feed.

About 10 days old

  • Replacement calves and beef keepers are moved to the 4 bay shed.
  • Disbudding is done at 2 weeks old by vets and any extra teats are removed.
  • Calves stay on 2AD until approx. 4 weeks of age and are drinking 5-6 L of milk.
  • Ad lib hay and meal is fed to calves and Trubond is added to the meal.
  • The calves have access to outside paddocks in mobs of 20.
  • Calves are vaccinated with 5n1 at 4 weeks of age around the calf feeder.


  • Slowly weaned off milk when calves reach 80 kg.
  • Calves are weighed every 2 weeks to ensure they all meet the weight requirement of 80 kg.
  • Calves stay on meal to 100 kg.
  • Calves go to grazing on 1st December and must be 100 kg (average 120 kg-140 kg).
  • Any tail end calves stay on farm until the following spring when the bull goes out and they are sent to grazing.
  • 8-9 t of meal is used, brought in bulk 1 t bags from J Swap last year at $765/t.
  • Calves receive a Baycox drench for coccidiosis before going to grazing.
  • Calves are weighed at grazing but only given an average weight across the mob.
  • Last season there were 2 empty heifers from the mob of 120.

Heath, hygiene and biosecurity

  • Foot bath for bobby truck driver. Driver does not go into pens.
  • Buyer of bull calves is only allowed to go to one pen and used the foot bath.
  • No antibiotic milk fed to calves.
  • Calf feeders hot washed daily.
  • Once outside a 60-teat feeder is used and cleaned out daily.
  • Milk tanker is hot washed once per week.
  • Water troughs cleaned out weekly.
  • White board system used for any calf treatment.
  • Farm has had issues with rotavirus, cryptosporidiosis and coccidiosis. Farm policy changed to vaccinating all cows with Rotavec Corona. Attention to detail with colostrum management, ensuring all freshly calved cows’ colostrum is tested using a refractometer, and Baycox drenching of weaned calves have largely eliminated problems on farm. Only 1 sick calf last season.

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