New Award-winning LifeStart Farmer for 2018

15 March 2018

Award-winning dairy farmer Reggie Lilburn with Trouw Nutrition Ireland's calf nutrition expert Laura McConnell

Beattie and Reggie Lilburn, who milk 240 Holstein cows on a 200ha farm near Dromore Co. Down, have just been awarded the prestigious LifeStart Farmer award for 2018.

Winners of the Grassland farmer of the year award 2017 - and runners-up in the UK final - Beattie and Reggie put their success down to attention to detail.

Beattie explained to Laura McConnell of Trouw Nutrition Ireland who presented the award, that rearing heifers to calve down at under 24 months is critical to their success in achieving lifetime yields in access of 40,000 litres per cow but starts as soon as the calf is born.

Reggie discussed the calf rearing program and set out the following objectives:

  1. Feed four litres of colostrum within 1 hour of birth and follow up with regular 3 litre feeds for the next 5 -7 days. This proceedure greatly reduces the risk of infection and scours

  2. Introduce calves to the milk feeder during their first week and continue feeding 6 litres per day at a concentration of 16% of a whey based calf milk replacer, which is the equivalent of 960gms per calf per day

  3. The calf shed should be well ventilated, have no drafts and calves in their first month wear a calf jacket during the winter. As well as this however, Reggie has recently introduced Trouw Nutrition's ‘Pulmo +’ - a natural product to reduce the risk of respiratory problems

  4. Never skimp on the straw bedding as this keep calves clean, dry and warm

  5. Offer ad lib calf nuts and chopped straw for the first week

  6. Calves are weaned off milk powder at 9 weeks and at this stage are eating over 2kgs of calf nuts

  7. Weaning weights for calves this winter have averaged 112kgs giving a birth to weaning growth rate of 1.0kg per day.

Weaning growth rate of 1.0kg per day!

The LifeStart program, developed by Trouw Nutrition aims to deliver an extra 4 litres of milk in the first lactation for every extra gram of growth achieved above the typical 500 grams per day pre weaning. LifeStart takes advantage of the virtuous circle of good health and quality nutrition producing strong growth and the potential for increased production.

There are 5 critical control points which are the foundation of the program and having implemented all of them Beattie and Reggie are worthy recipients of the LifeStart award.


For more information about the LifeStart program, go to