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Why Would You buy an Auto Feeder?

Auto Calf Feeder

This month I am going to touch on the topic of…..Why Would You Buy an AUTO-FEEDER?

Last month I attended a workshop on different strategies of how to feed calves.   There was a question on auto feeders, and the response was, “Its not for us”, another was “ we have too many calves for an auto feeder”.   This struck a nerve with me. What frustrated me was, they did not have accurate information.

When I talk about calf raising, I talk a lot about the 5 C’s of Successful Calf Raising.

When using an auto feeder, the 5 C’s are limited to 4 C’s.

The first of the ‘C’ ‘s is Colostrum, this event does not happen on the auto feeder. Colostrum feeding happens usually in the maternity area and transition / back rounding pens.  The auto feeder however does the next 4 very successfully.

Calories, Cleaning, Consistency and Comfort.

With the new CalfExpert from Holm & Laue, CALORIES can be easily fed to calves whether you feed whole milk, milk replacer or a blend of the two. You can feed on a bell curve which you and your nutritionist set up within the CalfExpert. You can see the curve on the screen within the feeder. You can also set up the Metabolic Feeding Program which is feeding more milk the first two weeks and limiting them thereafter. Industry standard is feeding them to their genetic potential the first 60 days equates more milk the first lactation. Typically, you would not have enough time within a 24/7 time frame to feed multiple times per day, but the CalfExpert does. Calves typically come to the feeder 4-8 times per day based on the feed plan set up within the feeder.   So amazingly effective and efficient!

The second C is CLEANING, within the CalfExpert, the machine will automatically clean the 2 mixing bowls, the hose that feeds the milk and the Hygiene Stall also gets cleaned. The Calf Expert is a one way clean. Feeder, hose, stall and then down the drain.   When cleaning is set up, we will clean 2, 3 or 4 times per day, alternating detergent, acid wash and final rinse stages.   Hot water is also available for the CalfExpert when washing, reducing biofilm within the machine and hoses. We still need to exchange nipples and solenoid twice daily. Washing these two in a sanitation procedure and letting them dry is key to reducing bacteria growth.

The third is CONSISTENCY; The CalfExpert is feeding calves 24/7 without any days off. It feeds the liquid diet at the appropriate milk solid rates, desired temperature and volumes fed are all tracked throughout the day. I know most farms with multiple employees are inconsistent at some point in a calf’s life which can create health issues.  EVEN MILK is a new concept for Calf Star and Holm & Laue. The CalfExpert and the Double Milk Jug (cooling chamber for whole pasteurized milk) will inform you of what milk amounts that will be needed for the next days feeding requirements. 

If you are using milk replacer, the mixing procedure is fast and very accurate, if you have a calf that is by nature a slower drinker, the mixing bowl has a heating device in the bottom of the mixing jar to keep that milk at that desired feeding temperature.

The Last of the four is COMFORT, the facility you keep your calves housed in is especially important. Keeping that air fresh is a key factor, the CalfExpert has an ammonia detector now that signals you to clean your bedding pack when ammonia levels get high, potentially creating calf health respiratory issues.  Air and drainage go hand in hand keeping that calf as healthy as possible.

So why would you buy a CalfExpert, whether you have 10 calves or 10,000 calves it still comes down to how do you want to manage your calves. The CalfExpert can be a very efficient tool when it comes to group housing and growing the future of our dairy industry.

Next month I will tackle, How to set up those Calf Care PROTOCOLS!

-Minnie

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