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Housing systems 

 

Some farms group calves from day one and some keep them separate till weaning. Some do a mixture of individual and then into groups and now there is a wave of research supporting the Buddy System where two calves are housed together from birth. 

For your farm the important thing is to choose a system that best makes use of your available space and man power. 

Milk Bar adapts to all these housing systems and we have developed a few tools to help you control and monitor the teat feeding speed so your calves can fulfil their potential. 

Individual till weaning

 

The key to success in this system is to keep the same feeder with the same calf from birth till weaning.

This means that when the calf is young she is feeding from a new Milk Bar Teat where the controlled flow is so crucial to boost immunity.

If you mix feeders up between calves there is a danger of giving a feeder to a young calf that has an older, more worn teat.

This teat will be feeding at a slightly faster flow which the older calf can manage but for the young calf it can lead to all the health problems we want to avoid!

It's simple to either number your feeders or hutches or use the Milk Bar Colour Code system. You can now at a glance make sure that each calf has her own feeder. 

 

Protocol:

  • Fit a new Milk Bar Teat to your single feeder.

  • Either number or colour code the feeder and the hutch.

  • This feeder stays with this calf until weaning. 

  • After weaning, replace the old, worn teat with a new Milk Bar Teat ready for the next calf. 

Cleaning:

  • Daily rinse and twice a week use an Alkali Detergent with a hot wash. 

TOP TIP! The Vitality System was designed especially for individual calves

The Milk Bar Vitality System was designed specifically for bottle fed calves who are individually raised.

It has a special Aligning Socket that stops the calves pushing the bottle out of the holder and makes sure the teat is in the right position for perfect milk delivery. 

Each teat fits into a coloured teat clip and all you need to do is match the teat clip to the hutch tag to be certain that every calf is drinking from the perfect teat for her age!

Contact us to see if the Vitality System could help you! 

Milk Bar Vitality System calf feeder

Individual to groups

 

In most parts of the Northern Hemisphere, this is by far the most common practice. 

Calves will start the first 10 to 20 days in an individual hutch and then transition into a group. 

Once again, the vital key to successfully raising healthy calves in this system is to control the age of the teat for each calf. 

 

We have developed a very simple system to help you take control of your calf operation, Follow the Teat.

The Follow the Teat System allows for farms of all sizes to successfully make groups of calves who will be feeding at a similar speed

 

Protocol:

  • Fit a new Milk Bar Teat to your Milk Bar single feeder.

  • Either number or colour code the feeder and the hutch.

  • This feeder stays with this calf for 10 days or whatever your preferred time frame is.

  • When you have enough calves to make a group, remove the Milk Bar Teat from each of the single feeders and insert them into the group feeder. This group feeder now stays with these calves until weaning. 

  • Place a new Milk Bar Teat into the now un needed Milk Bar single feeder ready for the next calf. 

Cleaning:

  • Daily rinse and twice a week use an Alkali Detergent with a hot wash.

 

Important: Making sure calves get enough milk volume is important. Make sure calves have no more than a two week age difference in your groups. Bigger calves need more milk so it's best to group large calves together.

 

 

Milk Bar calf feeder

Allocate all calves born in Week One a colour, for example, Orange.

Feeder and pen are tagged with orange tags.

When calves are ready for a group, take the Orange Tagged Milk Bar Single Feeders and tag a Milk Bar Group Feeder with an Orange tag. 

Take the Milk Bar Teat from the single feeder. In this case, the Milk Bar 1 4L with it's great teat attachment makes this easy!

Place the Milk Bar Teats from the single feeder into the group feeder.

Milk Bar calf feeder

This group feeder now stays with these calves until weaning.

Simple, easy and no mistakes.

With the right milk flow from start to finish, these ladies will fulfil their full potential!

TOP TIP! Use a Milk Bar Plug for spare holes

Sometimes you might not have quite enough calves to make a full group. Instead of wasting a Milk Bar Teat to plug the hole, pop a Milk Bar Plug in to seal the hole. 

They are available in packs of ten. 

 

Milk Bar Calf feeding

The Buddy System

 

There is a lot of work being done about housing calves in twos from day one. This system is often referred to as the Buddy System. 

Studies in the US and Canada show improvements in feed and weight uptake and the cognitive development in calves raised in pairs.

This study was performed by the University of Kentucky gives some nice detail on the Buddy System:

https://www.progressivedairy.com/topics/calves-heifers/making-the-transition-to-pair-housed-calves-two-heads-are-better-than-one?utm_source=E-newsletters&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=060420PDExtra&fbclid=IwAR3ZyfZTSPk_H1gTxlP7_5WkEktNzt3DTzVpV0HfqEjkCXRiUKdcOz199PI

 

The biggest drawback for calves in twos is that if they are fed from a bucket or a fast flow teat, they cross suckle vigorously. The damage cross suckling causes can have a long term impact to the calf's future production capability so it is especially important they are fed with a Milk Bar Teat to control the flow.    

 

Protocol:

  • Fit new Milk Bar Teats to two single feeders or a Milk Bar 2 Compartment Feeder.

  • Either number or colour code the feeder and the hutch.

  • This feeder stays with these calves until weaning, or until they transition into a larger group.

  • If you move them to a larger group, use the Follow the Teat System and transfer the Milk Bar Teats from the Milk Bar 2 Compartment to the larger group feeder.

Cleaning:

  • Daily rinse and twice a week use an Alkali Detergent with a hot wash. 

TOP TIP! Using Milk Bar Colour Code 

Simple and easy, the Milk Bar Colour Code system allows you to identify calf and feeder at a glance. 

For smaller farms where you have one or two calves per week, allocate each calf its own colour.

For larger farms, allocate all calves born in a week the same colour.

Match feeder tag to hutch tag and your done!  

 

Milk Bar calf feeding

Group feeding

 

For farmers in New Zealand, Ireland and Australia, group feeding from Day 1 is normal. In fact we're pretty sure we've never seen an individual system in any of these countries!

Calves are born in the spring so there is a large volume of calves in a short time, making groups of calves the same age an easy task. 

 

There are many benefits to group feeding, most significantly the reduction of time, labour and the improvements in calf behaviour. If you're used to an individual system it can be daunting to go to groups because of the dangers of cross suckling and the long term damage that can be caused from calves cross suckling after feeding.

There's a simple fix for cross suckling, slow the milk flow, regulate the intake and calves stop cross suckling!
Calves fed from a fast teat or a bucket will immediately suckle each other’s navels and udders post feeding making group feeding a challenge. The Milk Bar Teat resolves this issue so calves can be group fed with minimal risk. 

There's a lot of study being done around the benefits of group feeding.
A study at the University of British Columbia found that pair-housed calves continued to gain weight after weaning while 
individually housed calves experienced a lag in weight gain after weaning. Group or pair-housed calves also experience group 
learning. In a study performed at Utah State University, calves housed in groups learned to eat calf starter at an earlier age 
than calves housed individually. Consumption of calf starter promotes rumen development to increase feed efficiency.

We love to see calves in groups. They interact and zoom around and in the winter, lie close together for warmth. 

Calf feeding

For farmers who use individual systems it seems impossible to group feed calves from day one but providing you have enough calves every day to make a new group it is surprising how quickly it is to train them together.

 

Protocol:

  • At the start of the season or for each new batch of calves, put new Milk Bar Teats into your group feeders.

  • At weaning, discard the worn teats and at the start of the new season or batch of calves, place new Milk Bar Teats so the next wave of calves start with the right flow of milk.

Cleaning:

  • Daily rinse and twice a week use an Alkali Detergent with a hot wash. 

Milk Bar calf feeders

TOP TIP! Stop calves cross suckling

Feeding groups of calves is a fast and efficient system. The only draw back is the potential damage  done by cross suckling.

Every couple of days take a minute to watch your calves after feeding. They should be content and settled.

If they start to cross suckle then they are drinking the milk too quickly and they haven't satisfied the suckling instinct. 

Typically, a few days after you see cross suckling, you will start to see some nutritional diarrhoea.

Using a nose ring or similar might stop cross suckling but it doesn't solve the problem.

Simply put new Milk Bar Teats into your feeders to slow the flow. 

This fixes the problem.  

 

Calf feeding
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