Friday, August 24, 2018

Summary of Auto Feeder Success Factors

Data from 38 farms over 18 months were summarized. The research summary identified 9 factors associated with better calf health scores and/or lower mortality/ or treatment rates.

1. Reduced time to reach  peak milk allowance (minimum peak allowance suggested is 8L/d)

2. Feeding milk/milk replacer with low bacteria count (SPC less than 100,000cfu/ml)

3. Use of positive pressure ventilation tubes in the calf barn

4. Adequate amount of space /calf in the resting area (minimum suggested is 3.7sq.meters - 40sq.feet)

5. Small number of calves per group (suggested less than 15 calves)

6. Adequate farm average serum total protein concentration (an indicator of passive immunity transfer)

7. Use of drinking speed as a warning signal to identify potentially sick calves

8. Practicing navel and pen disinfection between calf groups consistency

9. Narrow age range within calf groups

They conclude: "It appeared that cleaning of the autofeeder and its various components was one of the most important keys to making these systems work successfully." (p162)

Reference: Endres, M. " What have we learned about automatic milk feeders?" Journal of Dairy Science 2018 101: Supplement: Annual Meeting Abstracts #117

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