Davis Dry Holdings Ltd, Foxton, NZ

The Davis family is achieving outstanding growth rates in their Wagyu calves, thanks to the Sharpes 16% calf pellets.

It’s a family affair at their Foxton farm with Ross, his wife Lona and eldest son Jay being part of the essential team to rear 1850 calves.

The couple were dairy farmer for 17 years before moving to dry stock, and have reared calves in spring for the last 20 years.

“Initially it was Friesian bulls, taking them through to 100kg, and that’s when we started using Sharpes. We’ve been using the calf pellets for about 16 years now,” Ross says. “We used to rear beef calves for Landcorp and we stipulated using Sharpes. They tried to get us to use another product but we could never match the great weight gains we do by using Sharpes 16% meal.”

For the last six years they have integrated into the First Light Wagyu programme, and this year will rear 1850 calves, solely Wagyu, for First Light.

The system is that calves are born, dehorned and castrated, and go straight on to grass. Ross says the 16% pellets have given them the biggest growth rates. “Two days ago I put 14 bags of calf meal out for 103 weaned calves and they scoffed the lot. They average 1-1.8kg daily weight gain. Last year we averaged 1.3kg per day on meal and grass, which is on par with what we were doing for Landcorp with beef animals. I think with a bit of tweaking it could be on par with Friesian bulls too.”

Within 10-11 weeks the Wagyu calves are hitting their target weight of 90kg and head off farm.

“We are in the top percentile for the quickest turnover in calves for the First Light group of professional rearers. They have ad lib meal and ad lib grass and they just grow.”

Ross puts a lot of the excellent growth rates down to consistency of the Sharpes product. Wagyu calves can be picky, and don’t like change in their diet. If something is different, the calves will tell them immediately. “Consistency is very important for us. And if there’s a problem with meal consumption, there are no issues, we ring and Sharpes fix it straight away – 100%.

“Freshness, not using palm kernel and not using a big pile of molasses is also important. In our case, when they’re eating grass, they can get protein overload so this is why we use 16%. We have tried every single product out there and this is the best for our particular rearing system.

“In our discussion group everyone puts their feed regime out, and every product was different, and each to their own as it is what suits your particular rearing system best, but our growth rates do reflect positively with the use of Sharpes meal– the group average was less than 1kg/day and the time on farm was longer compared to us, so it speaks for itself. We’ve used other meal and simply don’t get the growth rates out of it.”

The amount of feed they go through is significant, Ross says they can feed out “mega tonnes” in a day. Sometimes they can receive 10 tonne drops of Sharpes feed, twice a week. This year they are likely to use about 5550 25kg bags of meal.

When you’re using this much feed, you want to know it is delivering the results – and they get that from Sharpes.