Never Assume a Machine is Working Properly:
Calibrating Automatic Feeders
Just had an opportunity to read carefully the presentation at the Western Dairy Conference by Bob James and Kayla Machado entitled, "Group Housing and Feeding Systems for Calves - Opportunities and Challenges." Click HERE for a pdf version of the full paper.
Of special interest to me was their observation from a survey of 11 dairies with automatic feeders that the Brix readings of "as-fed" milk replacer varied from 7 to 18! Yes, that is right, varied from 7 to 18. This variation was not intential, rather it was the result of not paying enough attention to both the weight of powder being added and the volume of water used.
Back to Mr. Murphy - if anything can go wrong, it will!
Moral of the story? Calibrate, calibrate, calibrate. If you are using automatic feeders that do not have a built in calibration cycle, James suggests weekly manual calibration. I might add, check the discharge throat on the powder delivery system to see that there is not a build up of powder solids there as well.