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The Secret of Success to Calf Raising

Business Michelle Beier

Start with a Healthy Calf

The secret of success to calf raising is to start with a healthy calf. Filippo and Alessandro Severgnini, Cremonese breeders with an eye for detail, have chosen Agri-Plastics Hutches for their company, used not on a concrete bed, but with straw layered over crushed gravel, stone, and sand from local foundries. Young and competent with clear ideas to further grow the family business, Philip and Alessandro Severgnini are highly motivated breeders at their stable in Paderno Ponchielli (Cr). They are a great example of the levels you can achieve if you manage your herd professionally and give absolute attention to detail, starting with the heifer.

The Severgninis, originally from Cremas, moved to this farm some sixty years ago. This third-generation dairy farm decided to continue the same path as their parents and grandparents, under the banner of constant growth. Today there are 240 animals in milk, for a total of 550 head, in addition to 120 hectares/297 acres of countryside. They are committed to managing the farm in the best way. They are always trying to find the most suitable solutions to increase herd efficiency, both technically and economically.

 

Land Management
and Feeding Plan

89% of their feed is produced on farmland, from Winter-Wheat Silage in the bunker to Alfalfa in wrapped round bales. “Medica, or Alfalfa, is a fundamental product for our cows,” says Filippo, “both for its fiber quality and protein content, which varies from 19 to 24% of Crude Protein, and 55% of dry matter. We consider the wrapped Alfalfa almost like concentrate feed. It helps to contain feed costs. It also helps control our production costs. We have land that grows Alfalfa extremely well. By adding this additional feed, we can produce 2.8 thousand tonnes of milk per year (11,700kg on 305 days rolling average), which is 4.34% butterfat and 3.52% protein, with an excellent 2.8% casein.” (Casein is a fraction of the milk protein that converts to cheese.)

 

“To get to these results,” Alessandro explains, “we worked a lot on nutrition and the company’s production of raw materials because this is the real secret to having a performing ration at an acceptable cost. The collaboration with the Catholic University of Piacenza,” says Filippo, “was fundamental in setting up the cultivation plans, a theme that was also the subject of my degree thesis. This pushed us to choose forage crops according to their nutritional profile.”

 

On the farm, manure is also a great strength both from an agronomic and cost point of view, but it is necessary to know how to manage it in nutritional terms for the forage crops. This land management philosophy is built into Filippo and Alessandro’s DNA.

 

About Calf Housing

They also believe quality calf housing creates fit and healthy calves. Similarly, the management of the calf farm follows a specific protocol, with the analysis of colostrum and the establishment of a colostrum bank. They manage to have an average Brix value higher than 24%. The goal is to have healthy calves in excellent shape, and Agri-Plastics Hutches are a part of that. “The routine,” concludes Filippo, “is simple, but it is applied consistently. 100% of calves spend very little time with their mother for sanitary reasons. The calves are moved to a Hutch immediately. 

 

 

 


After various Hutch comparisons, we have chosen the models developed by Agri-Plastics because of the plastic material. Even after years of use, the Hutch does not become porous and cleans with the utmost ease. Even in the dead of winter, without heat lamps, the controlled ventilation in the Hutch guarantees an optimal environment for the calves. They live comfortably even with external temperatures of -8°C / 18°F. Similarly, the ventilation features of the Hutch allow recirculation of air inside so that the calves have an excellent level of comfort even in the summer months.”

 

 

Fencing and Bedding

“The Hutches,” Alessandro intervenes, “seem like simple objects. But the solutions adopted by Agri-Plastics, as well as the wheeled metal Supreme Fence, give maximum comfort to the calves. Cleaning the Hutches is quick and easy because of the hinges. The fence simply rolls in and lifts, allowing access to the exterior bedding”. The other peculiarity is that the Severgninis do not put the Hutch Systems on concrete. The Hutches are arranged on a unique inert material of crushed gravel, stone, and sand from local foundries. When they clean a row of Hutches, they move them all and add a new layer of inert material, ensuring maximum hygiene and comfort for the calf.

 

Skeptical? The company does not know what Cryptosporidium are. These results are made possible by a strict biosecurity program. 


The secret of success to calf raising is to start with a healthy calf. Agri-Plastics Hutches are used worldwide. This farm uses the SL Hutches, along with the Wheeled Supreme Fence. To learn about the variety of Hutches from Agri-Plastics, or to find a dealer near you, visit calfhutch.com.

 

Insights accredited to:

Agri-Plastics Italy, Fontanellato (Pr)

Tel. +39 335 274 512 • www.agri-plastics.it

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