Tuesday, 30 June 2020 16:22

Farmers struggling to manage persistent digestive disturbances amongst their calves now have access to a breakthrough new 100% dairy protein milk formula from Volac.


New Imunogard® has been formulated specifically for under-performing stressed calves or to meet the unique needs of calf units wrestling with a stubborn scour problem that can’t be overcome by an improvement in environmental hygiene.


Volac global technical manager Ian Watson explains that the new 23% crude protein calf milk formula is vegetable protein-free, which means it is more easily digested by calves under stress.


“The protein in Imunogard® is 100% dairy. By formulating to 100% dairy protein we can maximise the level of Imunopro® in this new product. This also increases the delivery of the functional whey proteins (contained within Imunopro®) to the calf, which gives it the best chance of fighting off a disease challenge,” he says.

The new Imunogard® calf milk formula from Volac is more easily digested by calves under stress.


He adds that the new product also contains a slightly higher fat content to allow for more energy to be metabolised for growth.


Additionally, Imunogard® incorporates the established hydrolysed yeast culture Celmanax from Church & Dwight to help improve calf gut function and mitigate the effect of a number of harmful pathogens. 


“Proven hydrolysed yeast cultures not only provide readily digestible refined functional carbohydrates for the calf; they also have a recognised prebiotic function. Put simply, the inclusion of Celmanax feeds the calf’s beneficial gut bacteria and helps bind them to damaging bugs, such as cryptosporidia, E.coli and Salmonella spp. This stops these harmful pathogens from binding to the gut wall and taking hold to cause disease signs such as scouring,” explains Mr Watson.


"For example, independent scientific trials have demonstrated that calves supplemented with Celmanax shed three times less cryptosporidium oocysts than those which were not, thus helping to reduce the spread of cryptosporidiosis. The Celmanax supplemented calves also had improved faecal and dehydration scores1.”

Imunogard® also benefits from the inclusion of other beneficial health supplements, as standard in Volac’s Lifeguard range of calf milk formulas. For example, butyrate for its anti-inflammatory effects and ability to stimulate gut enzyme production, and the garlic-derived ingredient Gardion – known too for its natural pathogen inhibiting effects and ability to enhance immune system function.


The new calf milk formula should be mixed at the rate of 150g in every litre of water and be fed to calves according to Volac’s standard growth curve recommendations.


Calf rearers, vets and nutritionists interested in further information about new Imunogard® should speak to their local Volac Business Manager, or call Volac directly on freephone 0800 919808.


  1. Church & Dwight, J Anim Sci 2009 Vol. 87
Thursday, 16 August 2018 18:02
NO O grades have been seen on grading slips for over three years at Loughview Farm, Comber, the home of Rodney Chambers and family.
“This proof of why the Texel tup is the nation's premier terminal sire is seen on our bottom line and in our weekly grading slips from the  meat plant. Consistently E, U and R grades.”
 The forth right view of Comber, Co Down producer Rodney Chambers, who runs Texel rams  with his 260 strong flock.
Comber farmer Rodney Chambers takes a logical approach to lamb production. That means using Texel shearling rams for good grades and maximum returns.
 “Our commercial ewes are mainly Suffolk Cheviot crosses and Texel crosses plus some Zwarbles, another impressive, but larger Dutch sheep. 
 “As regards rams we have tried other breeds, but for consistently good grades Texel tups are tops. The Texel is a robust yet docile breed so easier to work with and scouring is not the problem seen in some other sheep.
 “Growth rates are good and Texel crosses are well able to make up time after bad weather has slowed daily liveweight gain.”
  “85% of lambs are away by September having been born from mid February onwards. When you look at, for example, the Tesco cost of production figures, lambing late is not attractive. Yes, costs are reduced early in the year, but even more feed is needed to get those lambs away the following winter. 
 “Above all I want the decks cleared as tupping time approaches with almost all lambs finished  and cashed.”
  Having been manager on a large beef unit near Portaferry Rodney returned with a very logical approach to the business of farming  at home with his father David
  “That meant farming for a living rather than living to farm with an emphasis on achieving  a reasonable return and an acceptable family lifestyle. 
 “Aside from sheep our other enterprises are contract rearing dairy heifers and contract fencing for other farmers. A useful skill for anyone with livestock!
 “Previous generations here were used to sourcing stock for processors and this has been developed into an assembly point for our local lamb group. On an average week 400 to 500 lambs will be dropped off for transport to Linden Foods. Very convenient for producers around here and down the Ards, who simply do not wish to spend a day a week heading to a mart.. 
 “Operating this past 18 years the assembly point gives producers easy access to the meat plant and they know the price being paid per lamb up to 21kg. A total return over the year consistently ahead of that obtained elsewhere. 
Rodney Chambers with two of the Texel shearling rams put to 260 crossbred ewes.
 “Some farmers still think taking a heavier lamb to the mart pays better, but does it given the extra weeks and feed needed to get that lamb away plus extra time spend selling them? I doubt it.
 “And looking at lambs on collection day it is clear Texel sired lots are just so even and ready to grade well week in, week out,” Rodney Chambers added.
 When it comes to buying in stock where possible Rodney goes for mature ewes rather than ewe lambs. The already lambed three or four year old ewe being, he asserts, 'better value for money.'
 “The same applies when I head to the Texel sale in Ballymena, this year on Wed, August 29. I buy good shearling rams bred for use on commercial ewes. There is always a danger with  pedigree breeders that some  will  start to worry about totally unimportant traits linked to tear ducts, face colour or ear alignment!
A batch of lambs almost ready for the plant and mostly bred by the Texel shearling ram Rodney bought in Ballymena last August.
 “So we buy good  shearling rams bred to sire lambs that will improve the bottom line on our farm accounts. Rams have come from several breeders over the years including Henry Gamble at Bangor.”
 “We find Texels produce the right lambing percentage for us. What is the point in the 200% plus lambing percentages claimed by some breeds if one ends up with masses of surplus, pet lambs? Here the ewes scan at 185% and lamb at 175%, which is manageable and better business sense.”
 Clearly when it comes to the business of farming Rodney Chambers takes a logical approach and keeps his eye on the ball. A trait also displayed in the local twice yearly farmers golf matches where he is consistently in the top three.
  Northern Irish National Texel Sale, Ballymena, Wed, August 29. All sales are listed on the British Texel Sheep Society website

Thursday, 02 August 2018 15:15
EAR tagging suckled calves single handed has been made a simpler and safer job by Tobermore producer Derek McKinney.
 “Like most working with a suckler herd  I have had near misses and painful injuries that could become the seat of long term health problems,” Derek explained.
“BVD sampling  with Typifix tags means we have never had a single 'Insufficient Sample' report back from the lab,” reports Tobermore suckler herd owner Derek McKinney seen here with son Matthew.
 “So a safe handling system and using Typifix tissue sampling tags for BVD testing from QuickTag that are easy to apply has been a priority in recent years.
 “Ironically I did not appreciate just how good Typifix tags are until some tags from another maker arrived here in error. We have long used Typifix tags, which come with good strong, long handled applicators and are just so reliable.
 “The other brand proved unreliable and footery to apply especially working alone with suckled calves.
 “Typifix makers QuickTag keep improving their tags and as regards BVD sampling we have never had a single 'Insufficient Sample' report back from the lab.
 “With Typifix tags the sample simply cannot fall out and  is sealed and secure with no contamination  Having used these tags for nigh on six years we will be staying with the proven brand.
 “Now obtained from Erica Thom at her recently opened Killeen Animal Health store on the Gulladuff Road, Bellaghy these tags do the job time and again.”
 Aside from a suckler herd of mainly half bred Limousin cows run with a Limousin bull the McKinney family buy in some calves to rear. All stock being sold on as stores, mostly through Richard Beattie's saleyard in Draperstown.
 Derek also keeps 150 Texel crossbred ewes not lambing until after St Patrick's Day so easing the pressure on early grass. 
 “With Typifix tags the sample simply cannot fall out and  is sealed and secure with no risk of contamination. They are just so simple to  use,” reports Tobermore suckler herd owner Derek McKinney.
 Ewe lambs are put to a Charollais ram and the rest run with Texel tups from leading local pedigree breeder Richard Henderson.
 “As well we grow potatoes and barley in co-operation with my brother though expanding the farm business has slowed this past few years due to time pressure, “ Derek added..
 “In 2014 I was encouraged to gain election for this rural area, Moyola, on to Mid Ulster District Council and find the role very satisfying. Aside from trying to ensure the council provides value for money, practical services to the entire community one can help individuals deal with problems. I was elected to get things done now rather than point score in the media.
 “As a farmer representing a rural area I find a councillor's work interesting. but it is always a balancing act as regards time.
“Coming home from a long meeting to then deal with cows calving or sheep lambing into the early hours brings a councillor back down to earth!
 “Hence the emphasis here on decent handling facilities plus Typifix livestock ID and BVD sampling tags to make working with cattle less stressful for man and beast alike.”
 For details of your local Typifix suppliers across the UK contact QuickTag Ltd in Ballycastle Tel;  (028) 2076 8696 or browse

Tuesday, 05 December 2017 12:10
Volac Launching the new Urban Alma Pro

Automatic teat cleaning with disinfectant after every feed and a unique ability to give necessary medications, such as electrolytes, to the right calf, at the right time.

Two options available with the Urban Alma Pro calf feeder being launched in NI by Volac at the RUAS Winter Fair on Thursday, Dec 14.

High hygiene standards, disease prevention and early treatment are critical to successful calf rearing. Hence the already high demand for the Alma Pro model from Urban, one of the most successful manufacturers of computer controlled calf feeders.
Every teat can be washed and disinfected after each calf is finished drinking from the new Urban Alma Pro computer controlled feeder. The latest model from Urban will be shown for the first time in NI on the Volac Winter Fair stand.

The new Urban Alma Pro is the very latest in computerised calf feeding technology and can feed up to 120 calves through to weaning.

The innovative hygiene system helping protect calves from teat-transmitted infections by automatically washing and disinfecting teats after every feed has already proved popular. As has the Urban Alma Pro's unique ability to deliver the right dose of medications, such as electrolytes, to the right calf, at the right time.

The Urban Alma Pro can also incorporate a range of other innovations to help rear better young stock, more efficiently.

For example, it is equipped with the latest touch screen technology to give a simple overview of calf health thus alerting rearers to potential problems and allowing for a rapid response. The machine's full Wi-Fi connectivity can give remote access where ever you are, on or off, the farm.”

Installing an Urban Alma Pro simplifies effective, hygienic calf feeding and eases your work load. Calf milk replacer is mixed precisely with water and an in-line temperature sensor ensures milk always arrives at the teat at the correct temperature.

The machine recognises an individual calf’s ear tag when it enters the feeding station and allocates the correct milk amount and concentration.

Once the calf has finished drinking the teat will re-track to be sprayed with cold water and a disinfectant solution. To further boost hygiene standards the machine is designed to clean and sterilise feed lines and bowl with acid and alkali up to four times a day..

Compared with bucket feeding, this new machine saves producers 190 hours of work for every 120 calves reared.  Group feeding also saves on individual pen bedding preparation.

Visit the Volac stand at the Winter Fair in Balmoral Park on Thurs, Dec 14 to see the first Urban Alma Pro displayed in NI.

As ever with equipment from Volac the Urban Alma Pro is supported 24/7 by technical specialists based right here in mid Ulster. For further information contact Alistair Sampson of Volac, tel; 07860 626442.
Thursday, 05 October 2017 14:12
SCOURING calves usually have collapsed and inflamed guts with the digestive tract walls rubbing on each other thus causing the animal a lot of pain.
Using Volac ASGold helps overcome this by expanding and pushing the gut walls apart to give the villi time to heal and putting a soothing lining on the gut wall. By expanding the digestive tract ASGold allows electrolytes to quickly move though into the blood stream to aid rehydration and replace salts lost due to scouring.
Alistair Sampson, Volac NI business development manager
During October ASGold, the 'must have' for every calf rearer, comes with a very special offer of 500g free per 5kg purchased from your usual supplier.
Commenting Alistair Sampson, Volac NI business development manager, said that, “ ASGold contains electrolytes and glucose similar to that found in other products, but as a gel it does so much more to help calves recover from digestive upsets.. Primarily by opening the gut and allowing it to heal with natural plant fibres and pectin included to maintain gut health.
“Equally important ASGold can be fed in milk, milk replacer or water so the animal is not starved and can recover rapidly. Remember, a calf with with mild or nutritional scour must continue to be offered normal amounts of milk or milk powder.
“Diluted milk must never be fed nor milk totally withdrawn from animals unless in very severe cases of scour as calves rapidly loose body condition leading to stunted growth or premature death..
“An ideal first feed for bought in calves or to aid recovery from digestive upsets ASGold gel has been proved on farms nationwide.”
Where scour is severe or persistent a vet must be consulted. For further information about the ASGold 500g free offer contact Volac Freephone 00800 8652 2522 or Alistair Sampson tel; 078606 26442.
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