Dr. Neil Anderson, a veterinarian with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), has done a lot of research into feeding calves on the Acidified Milk Feeding Program. Using this program, calves have access to milk 24 hours a day, although it is not consistently warm as with the automated feeder. This allows them to drink more milk when they need more energy to compensate for colder temperature, leading generally to healthier calves. The milk only needs to be made every three days, but it does need to be stirred several times per day to prevent separation of milk and acid. Calves should be raised in groups of 8 or less. As with any calves raised in–group setting, there is a higher risk of diarrhea and respiratory challenges, but their extra milk intake strengthens their immune systems, leaving them better able to cope with illness. Weaning can be done either gradually or abruptly, although gradual weaning is the preferred method. One of the biggest challenges in the winter is preventing the system from freezing, although many farmers have come up with creative solutions to this problem using heaters or agitators.
The Effects of Ad Libitum Milk Intake on Dairy Calves
Mimicking Nature’s Way for Milk-Fed Dairy Calves: Free–Access Feeding with Acidified Milk
Making Acidic Milk with Formic Acid for Ad Libitum Feeding to Calves
Training Calves to Free-Access Feeding or Automated Feeders
Housing and Behaviour Revisited
Do Your Heifers Meet the Mark?