I sure hope you all have enjoyed cooler temperatures the past few days This summer has been like no other. High temps, lots of flies and no time to get all the things done on my list.
One of the items I had on this “To Do List” is trying an AdLib feeding program. We currently pair calves in a hutch from 5 days old to weaning. I scratched my head and thought, ok how can I monitor pair housing with AdLib feeding? I must admit I tried it and I got frustrated very quickly as I was more wet from slobber than anything. Trying to coach two calves in the same pen onto a nipple pail is painful!
So, with this trial, I went back to individual housing, starting all 10 calves on the nipple pail was much easier. The feeding program I used was from Holm and Laue, a German company that supplies Calf Star with Milk Taxis & Automatic Calf Feeders. When I visited Germany a few years back I was intrigued by this feeding system, so when I was approached to try it at our place I signed right up! My family thought I was crazy, my daughter’s comment was, “Mom this goes against everything you tell us not to do.” Well, she is right, keeping milk in a pail for 12 hours is something I would usually have not recommended. But I am also open to trying new feeding techniques.
Calves are given an 8 Liter nipple pail with a lid and started on a 13% solid ration/5.5PH. I started by giving them 6 Liters twice a day with Potassium Sorbet as a PH stabilizer, total protein scores were taken upon arrival, only one calf fell below 5.5. Most of the calves at 5-10 days had roughly 1 to 2 Liters of milk left at every feeding. By ages 10 to weaning (60 days) I could not keep milk in their pails. They are consuming between 15-19L of milk. Being this pail only holds 8 L and they were consuming more milk, I had my daughter make a half a batch of milk mid-day.
I must say, these calves are NICE. I did not have to treat anyone during this time. Now mind you, this was when our temperatures hit 95+ for two weeks. I must openly admit I like this program; but now how can I keep milk from freezing in the winter months is my next challenge if I continue this program.
The value of seeing these calves take off, grow, and consume that much milk is heartwarming to me.
Next month, I will share the rest of the data with you on rate of gains between my control group and the group on the trial. Along with the dollar value associated with growth vs morbidity rates.
So enjoy hoodie weather, until next month with the follow up results!