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The Milk Bar Follow the Teat System
We know that when calves drink 1 litre in under 3 minutes that the digestive system comes under strain and health issues start to occur.
We also know that it is hard to remember how old a calf teat is and normally they will get used until the milk is pouring out!
The Milk Bar Follow the Teat System was developed to give calf rearers a simple system that prevents teats being used well past their use by date.
It is human nature to try and get as much use as possible from a teat as a money saving measure. However it is a false economy as the cost of a new Milk Bar Teat is significantly smaller than a course of electrolytes needed when she gets nutritional diarrhoea from a fast milk intake!
The Golden Rule: One Teat for One Calf
Milk Bar Teats are scientifically formulated to replicate the correct speed and suckling action.
Calves nurse naturally and produce maximum saliva to boost immunity and improve digestion.
Using a Milk Bar Teat for more than one calf softens the rubber and she starts to drink too quickly.
Calves that drink too quickly cross suckle after feeding causing long term damage and suffer from nutritional scours and poor weight gains.
This simple system is easy to implement to any operation whether it be individual feeding or group feeding
Introduce the calf to grain and move calf to a new Milk Bar Teat.
When the calf is drinking confidently, remove the Colostrum Teat from the Milk Bar 1 and replace it with a NEW Milk Bar Teat.
If you use a Trainer Bottle for training, then allocate the calf a Milk Bar 1 or Milk Bar 1EL and fit it with a New Milk Bar Teat.
This is the important bit: this feeder now stays with this calf!
You can wash the Colostrum Teat for the next calf.
You can use a numbering system or use the Vitality Colour Management System to make sure that feeder always goes back to the same hutch or pen.
Day 14 - 22
By day 14, if you wish you can put your calves into groups.
This leads to better social development and less labour.
Take a group of calves born within a week or 10 days and use a Milk Bar group feeder of your choice. Remove each calf’s Milk Bar Teat from her Milk Bar 1 feeder and place it into the Milk Bar group feeder.
Use Milk Bar Plugs if you have spare teat holes.
This group feeder now stays with these calves until weaning.
If it is not possible to group the calves, they can be kept individual until weaning.
A word about group feeding
In New Zealand (the home of Milk Bar), cows calve within a 3 month period.
Because New Zealand dairy farms use a grass system there is a low labour component.
Small staff numbers and an influx of calves results in calves being grouped and fed with a group feeder from birth. Calves are typically born in the field and have often spent 12 hours with the cow before coming into the calf barn. This means she has already had the first few feeds in a natural environment and so training is very easy.
Milk Bar was developed on a NZ dairy farm in the late 1980s as a solution to ease the management of the calves and address the problems that are commonly associated with calf rearing such as nutritional diarrhoea, calves that cross suckle post feeding and the intense management required to keep calves healthy and growing.
In many parts of the world group feeding is feared as a contributor to disease and also because of the problems of cross suckling and its damage to the developing udder.
Using Milk Bar does not stop infectious diseases but it does greatly reduce and mostly stops cross suckling so group feeding can be a solution for farms that have limited space or who wish to streamline the calving facility.
There have been several studies to support grouping calves or pairing them up in a buddy system and hutch manufacturers are starting to design hutches to accommodate several calves.
Studies by Chua et al (2001) found that calves raised in pairs continued to gain weight normally during the week of weaning while those housed individually experienced the “growth check” commonly observed in traditional calf rearing systems.This suggests that group housing calves prior to weaning promotes development of social skills and reduces fear of interaction with other calves.
Dr James, Department of Dairy Science Virginia Tech
Aside from improving the quality of life for calves, group raising without a doubt reduces the labour input. This is not possible in many parts of the world, but it is possible to feed very large groups of calves as these two ladies demonstrate feeding 170 calves!