More on Using Automatic Feeder Data
More data from the joint Minnesota and Virginia researcher team.
Among other findings they found that calves that were diagnosed with treatable diarrhea had significantly slower eating rates up to 3 days before they showed visible signs of scours.
For me the implication is that when we scan the feeding rate screen and spot a calf that has a significant decrease in eating rate she should go on my "watch" list - especially for scours.
At this point in our understanding of the eating-rate data I don't feel comfortable starting any kind of intervention to prevent scours based on a decrease in eating rate. The difference in rate (healthy calves ate 88ml/minute faster than calves that later had scours) might not be great enough to justify anything more than closer observation.
However, if we diagnose a case of scours right away rather than missing it for a day or two we are more likely to have a positive treatment outcome.
Reference: Knauer, W.A.,and Others, "The use of day level feeding behaviors to detect illness in group housed automatically fed pre-weaned dairy calves." Proceedings of American Association of Bovine Practitioners, September 15-17, 2016 p.150.