Wednesday, 27 July 2016 06:55

Wool provides life-saving calf covers

Written by  Nigel Malthus
David Brown. David Brown.

With five million calves expected in the next eight weeks, it is a busy season for Christchurch firm Woolover, which makes wool covers for calves, lambs and kids, and for adult animals.

Woolover, now exporting to 15 countries, was founded by South Canterbury ex-farmer David Brown in response to the widespread livestock deaths in the big snow of spring 1992.

Dairy News caught up with Brown at his home in suburban Christchurch where he had spent the morning taking and making up orders of covers, mostly for North Canterbury customers.

Usually orders are despatched from the factory where the covers are assembled. Woolover contracts to Christchurch companies Terra Lana, which makes the felt-like woollen fabric, Deane Apparel, which cuts the covers and Mi Woollies, which sews the final product.

Brown says his biggest market for calf covers is North America, where most dairy farmers geared for town supply, so they must calve year-round to maintain constant fresh milk supply.

He says calves might survive cold weather without covers but research by North Dakota State University showed them doing better when protected, putting on weight faster when wearing covers than control groups which did not.

The US winter can be a challenge. Some farmers raise calves in heated barns but the buildup of ammonia needs careful management, says Brown.

"You can have calves in heated barns but there is a respiratory problem with that. Unless it's monitored and very accurate it can result in calves dying. Certainly they won't grow as fast, nor will they ever reach their full potential.

"We found in our trials that you can put more weight on outside, with a jacket on, than inside in a heated barn. And the result is lower mortality, better calf health and faster growth rates."

One big customer is a specialist calf-rearer in Wisconsin which uses Woolover covers and small wind-shelters rather than barns; very cost-effective, says Brown.

Compared with other animal covers, the advantage of his design is the way it wraps under the animal's chest, with a Velcro fastening, to keep the heart and lungs warm.

The latest Woolover covers have a waterproof Teflon-based outer layer. The woollen construction enables them to breathe and keep the animal warm overnight but not too hot during the day. The covers are durable and may be re-used for several seasons.

More like this

Meat sector takeover of wool?

A meat industry-dominated group has formed to carry out the recommendations of the Wool Industry Project Action Group report and is ready to lead that change.

Wool outfits to combine

Two wool companies, that handle around one-third of NZ’s strong wool clip between them, are looking to join together in an effort to rejuvenate the country’s struggling wool sector.

A glimmer of hope for NZ strong wool?

A Lincoln-based wool products company believes it offers a glimmer of hope against the increasing negativity currently saturating New Zealand’s strong wool industry.



Stop making decisions for farmers

OPINION: From my observations of general media reporting it seems that in today’s world no one wants to take responsibility for their actions.


Effluent expo canned

The Effluent & Environment Expo, scheduled for early November in Hamilton, has been cancelled.

Fonterra back in the black

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell says 2019/20 was a good year for the co-op, with profit up, debt down and…

Machinery & Products

Clear cut fodder

CLAAS Harvest Centre product manager, Luke Wheeler, says the end goal should always be the starting point when making purchasing…

Good mower an essential tool

Third-generation dairy farmers Hayden and Tania Edmeades run 500 dairy cows and associated young stock over 190ha near Putararu in…

Mowers get a makeover

Well known throughout New Zealand over the past 18 years, Pottinger has redesigned its rear-mounted Novadisc mowers to incorporate a…

Hardy spotlight

High quality, reliable lighting is essential for anyone involved in agriculture or the great outdoors.

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

Eyes have it

OPINION: Painting eyes on the backsides of cows could save their lives, according to new research by Australian scientists.

Walkers versus cows

OPINION: A North Yorkshire teacher has become at least the second member of the public to be trampled to death…

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter