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Based in Lincolnshire, Buitelaar Calf Rearer, Philip Gilbert took the reins of his grandfather’s farm just over four years ago and has continued to grow his rearing enterprise ever since.

Philip said:

“I started rearing 40 calves by myself and with quick expansion, I have been rearing 650 calves for the Buitelaar supply chain for 18 months, with the help of two other farm workers.”

Prior to expanding his rearing business with Buitelaar, Philip had trialled various other enterprises including fattening cattle, before identifying calf rearing as the most sustainable route for him.

Philip said:

“I fell in love with the system, my main aim is to be the most efficient as possible. Without any other major farm enterprises, I focus on my calf rearing, as attention to detail is key for it to be a success. Calf rearing is a numbers game, it will work on a smaller scale, but you’ve got to have a higher number of livestock to create a sustainable income and invest in better equipment such as buildings and machinery.”


Following a visit to Buitelaar’s Long Lane Development Farm in Somerset, Philip’s farm recently took installation of the Permanent High Health Units for further investment into the farm’s rearing future with the Group.

Philip said:

“The professional looking and purpose-built sheds at the Development Farm really appealed to me. They’re designed for optimal calf health performance and are proven to reduce antibiotic usage – I’ve now been granted planning permission to have a second unit built.”

Permanent High Health Unit
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Prior to the farm’s expansion, Philip was feeding hundreds of calves with a bucket and barrel attached to a wheelbarrow, resulting in increased labour efforts.

Philip added:

“Since installing the units, we’ve seen increased efficiency and have been able to increase our numbers – overall the job is a whole lot easier for us.”

By moving to a more efficient rearing system with the Permanent High Health Units, the farm has now cut down on labour time by half.

Although significant investment, the implementation of the Permanent High Health Units and quality equipment has seen the farm’s labour time drastically reduced to just 50% of what it was prior.

Philip said:

“I now use an 8000L tank with a pump and hose, which heats the water in the most efficient way, making the job much quicker. In two hours, I can feed 400 calves and I am using 1400L of milk per day. It’s much better since there is only three of us working on farm.”


With everyday production costs climbing, many farms are having to forward plan far further in advance to be able to predict their margins in the following months. Exceptional attention to detail is vital in times of high volatility.

“Everyone knows what farming can be like, but since we’ve properly planned and invested in our calf rearing enterprise, we haven’t looked back since. Yes, it’s a large investment, but the exceptional quality and brilliant visibility makes it great value.”

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IMG 1182


The Permanent High Health Unit has been designed for the sole purpose of efficiently rearing calves, achieving optimum health and performance, whilst proving to significantly reduce antibiotic usage on farm.

Philip said:

“The build quality of the shed is excellent. It’s designed to last and is very strong due to the galvanised frame and stainless-steel frontage.”

Designed with the young rearing calf in mind, the lower roof ensures the air flow is kept circulating properly and the temperature in the unit remains a constant.

Philip added:

“Initially I was worried about cleaning the shed with large machinery. However, it has a good foot clearance in the lowest part of the shed. The sloped floor and concrete really helps with pressure washing and disinfecting.”

The unit boasts the benefit of having easy access gates on each individual pen, allowing for improved stockmanship. Reduced disease transmission is at the forefront of the design with the units robust trough system designed to sit outside of the pen.

Philip said:

“The Permanent High Health Unit has troughs for each pen are strong and durable. They allow the calves a fair chance when drinking compared to other feeding systems which can cause problems if the calves can’t all drink at once.”

He added:

“I batch the calves for feeding and sort them out upon arrival to farm. I keep a close eye on them, making sure they feed properly from the start, which is crucial.”


The Buitelaar team have helped a variety of business enterprises ensuring the building process on farm runs smoothly and the transition to a new system is executed seamlessly.

Philip said:

“Throughout the whole process of expansion and growth, Buitelaar have been fantastic. The Tech Team visits often and help in various ways such as selecting cattle, loading lorries, health checking or whatever else may be needed.”

He said:

“Even if its late in the evening, the team are always at the end of the phone to give you support and advice. I’m proud of the progress that has been made during the last 18 months and I’m looking forward to the future.”

By utilising a farm’s physical resources and a forward plan for investment, farmers are better able to secure long-term health and prosperity for their farm.

Supply Chain Business Growth Manager, Mickie Blackett said:

“We’ve made it our mission to support our customers throughout the supply chain, working hard to build a profitable systems and offer sustainable returns for their future generations to come.”

If you’d like to find out more information about our Permanent High Health Units or understand how you can expand and diversify your business with us, click here.