Which Calf Gets How Much?
Many of us feed more milk as calves progress from newborn to weaning age. Decreasing amounts of milk are often fed as calves approach full weaning.
With a computer-controlled automatic feeder the changes in volume fed usually are set in the machine with one schedule for all calves. Periodically the calf care person may review these amounts. However, day-to-day management does not involve these settings.
With these automatic feeders it is essential to monitor drinking behavior of calves (amounts consumed, drinking rates, day-to-day variation).
With manual feeding we may have a bottle or bucket feeding program. I often see calves progress from a base feeding rate to a greater volume. And, at weaning time volumes are cut back. These different feeding rates need to apply consistently to the correct calves.
Which calf gets how much?
Some dairies use a dry-erase white board in the utility room. They post the calf numbers to be fed each volume.
Some dairies use a daily feed sheet (paper) that goes to the barn or hutches.
How about this one? Starting with this calf the rest of this row is fed milk once a day.
They used a discarded bucket lid, tag marker pen and a clip. This was a really cold day!
On this dairy I expected to find a sign with the message in both English and Spanish.
I was surprised to find that the person making the sign assumed that all the calf care persons could read both languages. Nevertheless, the day I visited these calves did not receive any milk.
A native Spanish speaker wrote this one and the supervisor added "o 1 Qrt" to make it bilingual.
The principles are simple:
1. Make the message short and simple.
2. Use the calf care person's language.
3. Make signs easy to move from row to row, from pen to pen, or calf to calf.
4. Make signs durable and weather proof.
5. Inexpensive is nice, too.