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The Great British Calf Week, hosted by the AHDB and the NFU, kicked off from 2nd – 9th February.

The week was a fantastic initiative to celebrate the progress that has been made by the industry since the launch of the strategy in 2020.

We were delighted to kick start the week’s events with our exclusive webinar, with over 200 delegates signed up to listen in. The webinar was a great chance to showcase our Development Farm in Somerset and cover topics such as our farm processes and protocols, calf housing construction and design, and the future of the industry. Speakers on the webinar included Adam Buitelaar, Gabby Emery and Jamie Robertson.

Delegates were firstly treated to an exclusive virtual tour of the Development Farm, presented by Gabby Emery, which you can watch here:

Gabby followed the pre-recorded virtual tour with a more detailed discussion about our Development Farm processes and protocols, including health management, vaccinations, Daily Live Weight Gain assessments and feed and nutrition.

The farm itself is an Approved Finishing Unit (AFU), currently housing 1200 calves at any one time. However, due to ongoing expansion, the rearing capacity will allow for up to 1500 by Spring this year. Every fortnight 200 calves land on farm from a TB collection and roughly 100 calves move out every week.

Jamie delivered a fantastic talk on the importance of purpose-built calf housing design, construction details and hygiene, making reference to our permanent and mobile High Health Units as profound examples of ideal calf housing.

One of the exciting features of the High Health Unit, that Jamie touched on, was the ease of access, linking heavily to biosecurity and the reduction of labour costs. Another great aspect of the design is clear visibility, allowing rearers to keep a close eye on their youngstock.

Jamie concluded that conventional concrete houses are difficult to clean effectively and praised the design of the High Health Units for having a proven hygiene design element built into them already.

Finally, Adam Buitelaar brought the webinar to a close with an interesting discussion on the future of the Group and our contribution in helping to drive the industry forwards.

One of Adam’s major talking points on the webinar was about our commitment to working from evidence-based facts and how our Development Farm has provided a platform for continued research and trials. Some of the trials at the farm have included (but are not limited to), feed rations, ambient temperatures, alternative bedding, and weather sensors.

Prior to acquisition of the farm in 2019, most of the buildings were old and in need of investment. Instead of knocking these pre-existing buildings down, most of the buildings were kept and adapted, enabling the team to further conduct trials between conventional sheds and the newer sheds – hence the invention and journey of the High Health Unit.

Another key aspect of Adam’s talk was about the invested work in the Longhorn breed, the opportunities available to the farmer and how we must look to the future to better understand the consumer’s changing eating habits.

Following these insightful talks from our speakers, there was plenty of opportunity for delegates to ask more specific questions, which brought about a great discussion at the end of the webinar. Some of the questions included the benefits of smaller batch sizes, how the High Health Unit is proving a better option than conventional housing, and what percentage of digestible proteins are available in our milk powders.

If you missed out on the talk, you can watch it back here.

Find out more about our High Health Units here.