We all know that time is money on the farm, computerised feeding systems are an investment in your farms future succession plan.
Computerised feeding systems may appear expensive, however payback is relatively rapid when you consider the labour cost of rearing a calf to weaning is approximately one sixth of that compared to twice a day bucket feeding!
Table 1: Labour per calf to weaning
|Feeding system||Minutes / Calf to weaning|
|Twice a day bucket||115|
The whole concept of computerised calf feeding is about labour saving whilst delivering milk consistently to the calves on a more natural little and often basis; these systems are designed to introduce flexibility into the day and reduce the ‘man hours’ spent on mechanical tasks such a mixing milk and carrying buckets, thereby offering more time to observe the calves.
They also deliver a fully controlled rearing system which is tailored to provide your calves with the opportunity to express their real growth potential.
The Latest Computerised Calf Feeders – The Benefits
- Allows ad-lib performance with the cost control of a restricted system
- Very low routine labour needs
- Allows each individual calf to be fed according to a pre-set programme to meet individual needs
- Consistent feeding – same concentration, same temperature, same portion size
- Records actual daily milk intake per calf
- Automated weaning curve which encourages rumen development and improves calf efficiency
- Highly successful stepped weaning with minimal set-backs can be introduced
- Optional automatic teat rinsing after every feed
- Access key data on your smartphone
The Volac Förster Technik Vario Smart Feeder can take pressure off the labour intensities of rearing calves. The machine has the ability to feed 120 calves at a time while also self-cleaning and self-calibrating.
Want to Know More About the Benefits of Using Volac’s Förster Technik Feeder? Check Out Two of Our Case Studies:
Halton Farms, 530-head herd of ProCROSS dairy cows based near Congleton in Cheshire, using Volac’s Förster Technik Vario Smart Feeder.
“This machine has been pivotal to our replacement heifer rearing programme. Calves wear collars with sensors that track how much and how many times they are feeding. All this data can then be tracked on the Calf App on the iPad so I can monitor calf performance from the other side of the farm, my kitchen or even on holiday via the CalfCloud, Intake decreases and less feeder visits often signals the early stages of an ill calf before we can physically see it. These calves go through a lot during their first few weeks of life –from being moved twice shortly after being born, the change from colostrum to powder and socialisation with other calves, making it essential we keep a close eye on their health.”
Chris Webb, 280-head calf rearing unit in Shropshire using two Forster Technik Vario Smart Feeders and two Urban U40 Feeder machines supplied by calf rearing specialist Volac.
“Our continental and dairy calves are currently averaging daily live-weight gains of 1 kilo a day, and Wagyu are at 0.8 kilo a day,” Chris adds. “A huge benefit of using the automatic feeder compared to a teat bar is giving calves equal opportunity to receive the right amount of milk and not be in a guzzling race against each other so one calf isn’t drinking ten litres per day and another only four litres per day. Calves also get the benefit of the little and often feedings that come with a machine.”
Chris adds that the new computerised feeder is equipped with real-time tracking of individual calves by streamlining calf weights, providing feeding frequency and consumption directly to a smartphone via tracking collars on the calves synching to the milk machines.
Want to Find Out More?
Calf rearers interested in our computerised feeding machines can ask for a free initial consultation to establish building layout and appropriate siting. Customers can also call on Volac representatives to set up the calf feeding programme and milk concentration levels according to individual requirements.