Group Housing/Automatic Feeders
Just finished viewing/listening to the archived webinar by Dr. Sandra Godden (Univ. Minnesota) "Feeding calves as groups: pros, cons, and best management practices."
Click HERE to go to the hour-long webinar. Or, you can go to the Hoard's Dairyman web site and click on "Webinars" to find the location.
Dr. Godden provides a short summary of pros and cons of individual vs. group housing for preweaned calves.
For automatic feeders you will find her presentation well documented where research is available regarding composition of milk delivered ( percent solids, bacteria counts, temperature), suggested best management practices for sanitation, maintenance and calibration.
She also brings together finding on the effects of group size on occupation of feeders and disease issues,
Her summary of 11 best management practices for group housing is worth repeating (quoting directly from her slides from the webinar:
1. Excellent colostrum management.
2. Excellent ventilation.
3. Clean, dry, abundant bedding.
4. Do not restrict milk intake (large meal/daily allowance).
5. Free choice water and high quality starter pellet in pen.
6. Careful, frequent observation of calves to detect disease early.
7. Delay introduction (>12-14 days).
8. Small group size (<8-10 calves).
9. Sanitation/monitoring/maintenance/calibration of equipment.
10. Don't overcrowd (>40 square feet per calf)
11. Manage as all in - all out system (narrow range of ages).