“We aim to supply high quality weanlings for the market with our calves sold at between 400 and 450 kilos liveweight,” Ian explained.
“We run a self-contained herd with AI bulls used to produce our replacement heifers. The remainder of the herd is crossed with high quality, mainly Charolais, sires.”
The brothers have built up cow numbers over the past six years. Emphasis has always been placed in breeding cows that are capable of rearing top quality suckled calves.
“Because of our calving pattern and the fact that we retain calves through to the yearling stage, our sheds are heavily stocked, particularly during the autumn and winter months. We try to wean spring calving cows prior to housing,” Ian further explained.
“And, of course, this puts stress on young calves as they are housed. In the past we would have had issues with calves coughing and some actually taking Pneumonia. Once the coughing started, the end result was a general fall-off in growth rates within the shed.
The Brocks’ traditional response to such developments was to call for veterinary advice and the inevitable reliance on antibiotics as a means of getting to grips with the problem. This year, however, they have tried a different approach altogether. Ian takes up the story:
“We have always favoured a prevention rather than cure approach to matters of an animal health nature. And, in this regard, we were advised to use Provita’s Promist product in the sheds as soon as the cattle were housed.
“It creates a menthol smelling mist in the shed, created by the electrically powered applicator. I used it on a daily basis in the calf shed for the first month or so after housing and the results have been tremendous. We have not had one case of pneumonia to deal with so far this year and the calves have responded in spades regarding the growth rates they are achieving.
“We have cut back slightly on the application rate frequency of the product over recent weeks, given that the calves are now well settled into their winter accommodation. However, I would firmly recommend the use of Promist to all farmers rearing calves and, particularly, on those farms where the risk of young stock taking Pneumonia is high.”
Provita Promist is a unique air purifier containing a blend of natural organic acids, essential oils and wetting agents which together help control the levels of particulates and ammonia in the housing of intensively reared livestock. It costs approximately £2 per head per winter.
It should be used at housing or when new stock are introduced onto the farm, repeated daily for the first month of housing, thereafter use as often as required, e.g. when new stock is added to cattle houses. During foggy periods apply twice a day until weather improves.
Ian Brock concluded:
“I am naturally sceptical about claims made for animal health products. However, where Promist is concerned the response that we have received in terms of improved calf health this winter has been nothing short of remarkable.”