Three-phased rearing of calves

Atria has developed a three-phased calf-rearing model: the dairy farm, calf-rearing facility and finishing facility all specialise in their own areas, so they are able to take care of animals in the best possible way.

Dairy cattle and suckler cows calve once per year. The best heifers usually remain on the farm to grow into new cows. The bull calves and some of the heifers are transferred onwards via calf intermediaries. Dairy calves are taken to calf-rearing facilities when they are less than one-month old. Beef-breed calves are weaned from their mothers at the age of 4–6 months.

Calves that are less than one-month old are sensitive and require special care during their first few months in the calf-rearing facility. Calf-rearing requires producers to pay careful attention to detail and to have the ability to monitor the condition of animals.

Calves are reared in groups. For the first few weeks, the calves receive milk-based drinks, water and dry hay or pre-dried silage. As they get older, their diet expands to include mixed concentrated feed, and milk is entirely replaced by water when the calf is a couple of months old. Farms may have only calf-rearing facilities or combined calf-rearing and finishing facilities. From the calf-rearing units, the calves are sent for finishing at about 5 months of age. Atria’s highly competent contract transportation entepreneurs handle all transportation.

Finishing

At finishing facilities, heifers and bulls are reared in free-range conditions at their own rhythm for over a year. They are sent for slaughtering at an age of 1.5–2 years. Finishing facilities may be either cold sheds, where animals are reared in groups in sheds on a thick layer of absorbent litter, or "warm sheds", where part of the floor of the shed contains a grille that allows urine and faeces to run down into the manure storage area.

All of the shed types are built to allow all of the animals to lie down simultaneously. The most important factors in ensuring successful finishing are sufficient space and successpul, methodical feeding. Normal bulls can weigh up to 800 kilos when they are sent to slaughter.