Investing in our calf and youngstock expertise

We are proud to announce that 21 members of our team have completed our Calf Academy programme.

The year-long course ended this month and was specifically designed to improve knowledge and expertise in calf rearing and youngstock health. Including modules in nutrition and colostrum management, environmental control measures, and disease prevention.

The training course was co-designed and led by Julia Wadeson, calf and youngstock specialist, and Clare Lawson, calf and youngstock product manager. They both delivered it digitally through weekly online sessions, featuring external industry experts.

“We’re proud to have seen our first group graduating from the course,” says Julia. “And it’s brilliant that many of them are already engaging in conversations with customers about youngstock rearing.

“This was an extremely challenging programme which required a significant time commitment and participants were required to pass an exam at the end of each module. Our graduates are now better equipped to advise on giving calves the best possible start in life and how to optimise growth to reach an age of first calving of 24 months. “It was an inclusive programme, accessible to those working in-store and on-farm,” she adds.

Peter Cartmail, one of our area sales manager has been really impressed with the impact the course has had, noting that “the entire course from start to finish covered all the relevant points, some much more technical than others, but combined gave a rounded understanding of what’s required to successfully rear calves”.

Following the success of this year’s programme, we are now planning to run the course annually for our staff, alongside top-up modules for those already qualified.

Reduce the Risk of Staggers this Spring

Grass staggers, tetany, hypomagnesaemia, call it what you like but spring magnesium deficiency in ruminants can be both fatal and expensive.

Although it seems that the snow has barely melted, grass will soon start to grow, when stock are turned out the issue of staggers will need to be managed.

The problem

Fast-growing spring pasture is low in magnesium, highly digestible and high in moisture. This, together with less supplementary feed used at grass means that magnesium intake is reduced. To make matters worse, magnesium absorption in the animal’s gut can be compromised by high fertiliser use, particularly when potassium is added to the pasture. If the challenge of low magnesium supply is not enough, stress can also reduce blood magnesium levels making a dangerous situation critical.

The problem of staggers is mainly seen in but not confined to lactating livestock during the spring grazing period with the risk period lasting anywhere between three and ten weeks. Animals do not store magnesium in the body and clinical hypomagnesaemia will occur when the losses of magnesium through the milk exceed the dietary intake allowing blood levels to fall below a critical level. Classic symptoms of nervousness, twitching, stiffness, staggering and collapse can follow although many cows showing no signs of the deficiency will have reduced milk yield.

What can be done?

One remedy would be to be extra-vigilant by constantly monitoring livestock for the onset of hypomagnesaemia and to administer subcutaneous magnesium sulphate injection at the first signs. Needless to say this is not a practical approach, nor would it prevent reoccurrence so methods of prevention should be used as part of the dietary management of herd or flock in the spring months. The options available to provide supplementary magnesium include boluses or alternatively by feeding a high level to livestock in the form of a dietetic feed. This can be in a number of forms including cobs, high magnesium cake, liquid feeds and mineral feeding stuffs. It should be stressed that none of these methods are a guarantee on their own and to further reduced the risk, should be fed in conjunction with readily available energy and a source of long fibre.

Megalix Quattro Mag

One popular way of feeding supplemental magnesium is via a palatable molassed mineral lick such as Megalix Quattro Mag. With four sources of magnesium including AGMA calcined magnesite, Megalix Quattro Mag ticks the boxes for free choice feeding in the spring grazing period. With two slow releasing sources of magnesium and two quick releasing sources, Megalix Quattro Mag gives livestock both immediate and sustained protection against staggers.

AGMA calcined magnesite is regarded by many as the best magnesite on the market, with independent research at Glasgow University Veterinary School confirming that AGMA has superior bioavailability of magnesium, highest rumen solubility and the most consistent product quality.

Megalix Quattro Mag is available in 20kg and 80kg tubs and provides livestock with 24 hour protection against staggers.