Pete Connor – Calf Rearing, Hawke’s Bay
After nearly 30 years of calf rearing, Crownthorpe farmer Pete Connor has his formula down to a fine art, and nutrition is a key component of the recipe.
Sharpes gets a big tick on price, quality and delivery logistics from Pete and his wife Robyn, who farm in partnership with Pete’s brother and sister-in-law as Connor Farming Ltd.
The family rear 600 bull calves annually at their Hawke’s Bay farm, though they have done up to 1000 calves a year in the past. The calves are taken through to two-year-olds and go out as lease bulls to the dairy industry. They also do some cropping, with sweetcorn under pivot irrigation.
Calves are purchased from the same trusted eight farmers in the Waikato each year, so they know the exact origin of calves, which are also all vetted prior to purchase. “We have a relationship with the farmers and know them personally. That’s gold as far as calf rearing goes.”
Calves average seven days old when they arrive on the property and Pete says that although they pay a premium for the privilege of getting older calves, it’s worth it, as they have had colostrum for that much longer.
Pete started calf rearing nearly 30 years ago when he bought six calves. He says he basically doubled the number each year and the rest is history. They follow the Poukawa system for rearing their calves. Calves are fed 400 grams/day of warm whole milk, once a day, for 42 days (six weeks) and are housed in pens of 12.
The calves have access to Sharpes meal from day one and by week five they are eating 1kg/day as well as their 400 grams of milk. Pete says they will start nibbling on the meal from day one. By week six, calves are generally ready to come out of the shed, the criteria being that they must be eating 1kg meal/day, which signals they’re able to process both meal and grass.
Calves come into the shed at 45kg, putting on 20kg, and leaving at 65kg. The calves are predominantly Friesian with a handful of crossbreds.
The Sweetest-mix for success
Pete says animal health is crucial to success, as well as getting your calves from a reputable source and ensuring it has had colostrum. The Connors have been using Sharpes for about eight years. “We’ve used other products in the past but we latched on to Sharpes. They gave us the best price and it’s a premium product – a good quality, consistent product,” he says.
“We bulk order, we’re set up to use it in bulk, so we get in 25 tonnes on a truck in one hit (in one tonne bags). They’re really good with pre-ordering and delivery, their logistics system is very good.”