As the dairy industry shifts to automation, there will be some major decisions need to be made such as should the calves be indoor or not. Here are 4 things to consider when shifting towards automated calf feeding:
1. Discuss the shift in work
The main goal of choosing automation is to shift calf caretaker work from mixing and delivering milk to monitoring the calves.
The workers need to be well trained to monitor calves, or else the performance of calves will be affected.
Also, team working directly with calves should be involved in the decision to switch to automated feeding.
2. Building the right facility
The facility of the calves are often overlooked.
It is important to remember the basics for feeding calves when building a new facility.
The facility needs to be clean, dry, as well as spacious.
Ventilation is also crucial to prevent any respiratory diseases.
Positive-pressure calf barns have become popular in some regions but these systems are continuously evolving as new methods are available.
3. Determining amount and type of feed
It is crucial to have a clear understanding of how much and what you want to feed your calves.
The decision should be made together with your nutritionist and veterinarian as well as management team.
Without proper feed management, the performance of your herd will be adversely affected, which will decrease the profitability of your farm.
4. Having the right team
When you plan to implement automated feeders, it is vital to have a skilled team in place.
This would include a knowledgeable distributor with good connections to all players and aspects of management to give calves a healthy start before being introduced to the feeder.
Calf management begins with dry cows and colostrum management - the 2 factors which heavily impact the success of calves on automated feeder.
This person should be able to help in feeder function and provide you with tips to ensure it is working properly.
The distributor should also be aware of the expectations and how to align them with the abilities of the feeder.