Northland farmer Evan Smeath now provides his calves with fibre-based feed products from their second week to give them a better start.
Seeing the proof in the pudding was enough to convince Northland dairy farmers Evan and Sherleen Smeath to change the way they rear and feed their animals after 45 years in the game.
The Smeaths run 290 Jersey milking cows and around 200 other stock calves, yearlings and bulls on their 190ha Hukerenui property, where they have been for the past 37 years. Evan has been farming since he was 15, but now nearly 60 decided it still wasn’t too late to change how things were done.
As a certified cattle judge, he said it was the youngsters he was talking to while judging entries on local school calf club days that got him thinking about animal nutrition. “Over the past two or three years I had seen more and more kids at calf club rearing exceptional animals they were big, healthy, shiny calves.
“Part of the judging process is to ask them about how they have reared their animals and all of them said ‘Fiber Fresh Feed’, so I thought ‘I’d better get onto that’.” After what he’d seen as a calf club judge, he said: “It wasn’t just one or two stand-out animals that were coming through, it was a whole bunch” Evan began using the fibre-based feed products to rear his own calves last season.
He introduced the feed in the calves’ first week, alongside his week-one standard process of fresh colostrum and lots of milk, and found the calves a lot easier to manage, much quieter and mature than calves he had raised
previously. The Smeath’s were so happy with the results of introducing more fibre into their young animals’ diets that Evan is also now supplementing the feed of his milking cows.
“Because it’s been so dry this summer, we’re mixing the supplement with feeds for the cows at the moment to balance their diets. It’s a great way to tide the animals over until we get some rain, and it’s good value for money as well.”
Fiber Fresh founder and managing director Michael Bell says the firm’s nutrition philosophy is based in nature and enhancing calves’ natural development through the use of high nutritional fibre.
“By introducing natural fibre into calves’ diets within their first few weeks, it encourages faster and healthier rumen and papillae development, allowing calves to transition to being an animal that can grow and thrive on grass much faster,” he said.