The greatest advantage of automated calf feeders is reduction in labour. However, you must remember you are still dealing with live animals and calves still need to be visually checked twice daily. If the automatic feeder you are using is computer programmed you could have the same advantages as with individual feeding:
Calves have access to a constant warm supply of milk in smaller amounts, as they would from the cow.
You have control over feed intake of individual calves.
Each calf’s consumption is recorded in the computer so you know exactly how much feed each animal is getting.
The system generates a list of calves that aren’t drinking so you know which ones to watch.
Weaning can be gradual process as the machine can be programmed to slowly wean calves off milk.
As with any machine, there is regular maintenance that needs to be performed. The automatic feeders should be cleaned daily and thoroughly checked over weekly. Make sure the machine is calibrated to the feed schedule you want, and is dropping the correct amount of powder. Calibrating the machine should be done weekly. The cost of the machine represents a significant start–up cost when adopting this system. Carefully enter the feed schedule into the system to avoid errors. And remember that computerized feeding will not compensate for poor barn design or bad ventilation.
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