Jason Short, northern business manager for Volac, runs through some of the key benefits of using automated milk feeders for calf rearing.
Less time is needed to feed calves as the process is automated
Milk mixing rate and feeding temperature are consistently the same
Calves can feed little and often which matches their natural behaviour and encourages the calf to eat concentrate which aids rumen development
Individual calves in the same pen can be on different feeding regimes; this allows beef and dairy calves to be run together
The machines automatically rinse themselves; some systems also rinse and disinfect teats between calves
Less time feeding calves means you can spend more time doing other tasks such as weighing and monitoring growth rates
The computer will inform you which calves have drunk and which have not; you can view feeding curves and also calf weights on some models
Volac offers technical support for the two machines it sells: Urban feeders and Förster-Technik feeders; it can discuss where to site feeders and set-up feeding programmes
Calves still need to be checked visually; the computer can help to pinpoint calves which haven’t had their full milk allowance so action can be taken
1.5sq.m/calf is the minimum space requirement
Good drainage, ventilation and natural light are essential to maximise performance on any system
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