George Shaw is Technical Adviser and N. Ireland Account Manager for animal health company, Provita.
For this role he brings pharmaceutical knowledge as a registered pharmacist, as well as practical animal health skills being a part-time farmer himself.
He farms in partnership with his father on the outskirts of Castlewellan, Co. Down where they run a beef enterprise.
They purchase approximately 100 bull calves from local dairy herds annually, predominantly Holstein/Friesians, rearing them to 16-18 months targeting 450-500kg to sell through local marts in the spring/autumn.
With a busy work schedule, the main focus on the farm is to implement effective measures that boost animal performance, reduce setbacks and maximise animal output from grass and forage.
After working in retail pharmacy for a number of years and having already used a range of Provita products, the opportunity arose over two years ago to join the Provita team on a full-time basis.
0% mortality rate
One such product, Provita Protect POM-VPS, which George, and his father started to use approximately 6 years ago for scour prevention was a “game-changer” when it came to calf rearing management.
Since using Protect for bought-in calves, the Shaw family have not lost a calf to scour.
Protect is the only medicinally licensed probiotic for prevention of calf scour and clinically proven to reduce calf scour by 83%.
Each calf dose supplies 10 billion probiotic bacteria, given over 3 days, to establish a healthy gut and thus produce an environment that gut pathogens cannot survive in.
Plus, the Protect probiotic will crowd out the bad bacteria and viruses, preventing them from sticking to the gut wall.
By giving Protect, you are providing broad-spectrum cover against many scour causing bugs and trials show it to be effective against 8 common pathogens like E.coli strains K88 and K99, Salmonella typhimurium, dublin and enteritidis; Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium perfringens and Listeria monocytogenes.
After the father and son team started using the product, they noticed calves performed better and started to eat roughage and more concentrates at a younger age, therefore, greatly aiding the weaning process.
Giving the calves that better start stands them in really good stead as they get older.
Reducing the setbacks by giving Protect allows the calves to kick on and keep on growing.
Utilising grass and forage to its maximum
George tries to utilise grass and forage to its maximum wherever possible to boost liveweight gains.
Grass and silage are the cheapest forms of feed and if optimised, they can certainly help beef margins which have been under pressure with low prices.
The key to good quality silage is to cut quality leafy grass, targeting optimal dry matter (28-32%), minimise losses during ensiling or baling and avoiding spoilage.
Getting all of these steps correct will equate to a quality forage.
Use of an effective silage additive like Provita’s Advance+ will boost the quality of the silage significantly.
Advance+ supplies 1.2 million bacteria per gram of forage to provide a rapid fermentation to reduce dry matter (DM) losses so more energy and nutrients are conserved in the silage.
On-farm trials have shown Advance+ to reduce DM losses by 3.5% which is equivalent to an extra 35 tonnes in a 1000 tonne silo.
These DM savings alone will actually pay for the cost of the product and that is before you take into account the extra energy and nutrients kept in the silage, making it an excellent investment.
€60/head more in farmers’ pocket
For a 400kg store steer/heifer, it will cost £6.50-7.00 for Advance+ to treat 6 tonnes of silage to cover an 180-day winter.
Based on farm studies, Advance+ treated silage will produce an extra 28kg of liveweight compared to silage treated with a competitor additive or left untreated.
This would add up to give an extra £56 (28kg x £2.00/kg liveweight) per steer/heifer after 180-day winter on Advance+ treated silage.
As you can see, it does pay to make better silage and use an effective additive like Provita Advance+.