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Wynnstay product scoops top award for helping maximise youngstock potential


An innovative product which aims to get youngstock off to the best possible start has been recognised for its efforts in helping improve the health, welfare and productivity of livestock.

The Heatwave milk heating system, which encourages natural feeding behaviour, was awarded the RABDF’s Livestock Machinery and Equipment Award at the Livestock Event in Birmingham last week. The product seeks to help youngstock get the right nutrition at the start of their lives to maximise growth rates, ensuring they stay healthy, and helping them become as productive and profitable as possible in later life.

 Developed by husband and wife calf rearing experts Alan and Gill Dickson and sold through Wynnstay, the Heatwave milk warmer allows up to 30 calves to feed ad lib, 24 hours a day.Unlike traditional once-a-day feeding, which can flood an animal’s digestive system and put it at risk of scours, feeding ad lib encourages a calf to behave more naturally. By feeding little and often, they are able to digest the milk more easily and maximise their growth potential. Warming the milk using Heatwave encourages very young calves to drink more milk in the colder months, helping them consume at least six litres every day to help them grow and remain healthy.


“Feeding cold milk ad lib from a bucket with a teat bar is fine in the summer, but once temperatures drop below 10°C you don’t get the intake you need to ensure healthy calves,” says Mrs Dickson, who is also Wynnstay’s National Calf Specialist.

“Heatwave is a cost-effective way of helping calves get the nutrients they need during the first 40 days of their lives when their feed conversion rates are at their highest.”


Giving youngstock 24-hour access to milk and they remain healthy is considerably cheaper than having to treat animals with medicines when they become ill, she adds.


“Plus research has shown that dairy calves given 900g instead of 500g of milk powder in their first weeks go on to produce an average 800 litres extra milk in their first lactation.”


Mrs Dickson says the system has shown huge potential for dairy farmers who want to make the most of their bull calves. “Many bull calves have the genetic potential to put on over a kg/day in the first four weeks of life, but feeding them once or twice a day is just not maximising that potential.


“If you have an ad lib system they can consume 12 to 15 litres a day. We have a client who has been using it for his bull calves and they have gone up two grades since using the system, so it certainly makes financial sense.”


“In our trials of Heatwave, we have had one client whose bull calves have gone up two grades since using the system because they look like they have been reared on the cow. Using the system certainly makes financial sense.”


As well as benefitting dairy farmers, the Heatwave system also helps sheep and goat farmers who want a low labour system which still ensures their animals have the best start to their lives. Its multi-species capabilities was something which impressed the judges, Mrs Dickson says.


“They also liked that it is affordable, flexible and incredibly simple,” she adds. “The next stage up is a computerised system with collars, which is a £7500 investment.


“For just a few hundred pounds, Heatwave is an ideal solution for smaller-scale producers who can give a reasonable amount of attention and stockmanship.


“We’re incredibly proud to have won the RABDF’s award, and hopefully by winning it will help focus peoples’ minds on youngstock nutrition,” Mrs Dickson says.


“Taking the initiative to feed youngstock better and more naturally in the first few weeks of their lives is not only more humane but will also reap financial benefits in the long-run.”




Notes to editors


For more information on Heatwave or to interview Gill, contact Wynnstay on 01691 828512 or email

Wynnstay Group was founded in 1917 by a group of tenant farmers, formally becoming a farming co-operative shortly afterwards. Now publicly listed company on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) the group has two main divisions, focusing on specialist retail and agricultural supply, and employs a host of experts across many farming specialisms to support its customers and keep the business at the leading edge of development in the sector.

Published by Be Bold Public Relations, 01952 898121, email