More on Group-Housed Calves
on Automatic Feeders
"A study of farms using automatic feeders and group housing revealed some practices that point to success in these calf rearing systems." This is the lead for an article by Dr. Marcia Endres (University of Minnesota, St. Paul) that summarized factors that can be important for the successful use of automated calf feeder systems.
She listed these nine factors:
"1. Reduced time to reach peak milk allowance.
2. Milk or milk replacer with low bacteria counts (cleanliness of equipment is key).
3. Positive pressure ventilation tubes.
4. Sufficient amount of space per calf in the resting area.
5. Small number of calves per group.
6. Adequate farm serum total protein concentration averages (an indicator of passive immune transfer.
7. Drinking speed used as a warning signal to identify sick calves.
8. Consistent navel dipping and disinfecting.
9. Narrow age range within calf groups." (p349)
You may want to read the entire article including her nine "Rules of Thumb" or specific recommendations for automated calf feeder systems.
Reference: Endres, Marcia "Lessons learned from group-housed calves." Hoard's Dairyman May 25, 2017, page 349.