Weaning with Computer Feeder
A presentation at the New York State Calf Congress (December 7 and 8) focused on calf care at Champion dairy in Clinton NY.
They feed with automatic computer feeders. The calves are fed a 28-20 partially acidified milk replacer for 54 days. The maximum amount fed per calf is 9 liters. Meal sizes range from 1.8 to 2.5 liters depending on the calves stage in the feeding plan. A typical calf will have 4 to 6 meals per day.
Weaning - Calves are weaned in a "step" program. Weaning occurs in a two week long period.
The first week is an abrupt three liter reduction.
The second week is a gradual six liter reduction.
Of special note was the calf manager's presentation regarding the weaning process. They are quite satisfied with the "step" program that begins with the abrupt three liter reduction. After this drop in total milk availability the calves have been observed to make significant increases in dry feed consumption within just a few days after the change.
This increase in starter consumption is in contrast to what I often see on calf enterprises that follow a weaning program with small incremental decreases. In those facilities following a very gradual decrease in milk allotment protocol it appears to be common to see little change in calf starter grain intakes for as long as a week into the weaning process.
I plan on following this calf care program into 2017. I want to see if the calf care folks are still using the "step" down weaning next May or June. And, I want to listen to their comments about calf starter grain intakes and successful transitioning into the next growth stage.