the Milk Bar lightbulb
Innovation born of frustration
Did you know that Milk Bar was founded on a dairy farm in a small community in New Zealand?
This is what really sets Milk Bar products apart, everything has been designed on farm, by farmers.
That's why Milk Bar works so well on farms all over the world.
Through the 1970's and 1980's, Ross and Diane McInnes were having a frustrating time feeding their calves.
Calves were either fed from a tube feeder where the calf sucked the milk up the tube, from a single feeder with a fast feeding teat, or from a pail.
1. Tube feeder
The calves fed from the tube feeder suckled hard but the tubes were hard to clean and often popped out of the feeder.
2. Single feeder with fast teat
The calves fed with the fast teat were easy to train, but they had poor growth rates, a lot of diarrhoea, and cross sucked after feeding.
Bucket fed calves were hard to train, had a lot of diarrhoea and also cross suckled after feeding.
These feeders were time consuming and labour intensive which is not practical in the New Zealand system.
Calving in New Zealand is seasonal with the majority of calves being born within an eight to ten week period. Typically all the calves are fed by one or two people. It was clear that existing feeding systems did not work and a more efficient feeder needed to be created.
In 1989 the first ever fence hanging group feeders were designed and used on a small 180 cow farm in Northland.
The first ever gravity group feeders. Anywhere. Ever.
The Mini Milk Bar or now known as the Milk Bar 5 was the first fence hanging group feeder for small groups of calves.
This little feeder has transformed the way calves are fed around the world!
From humble beginnings there are now 15 different shapes and sizes of Milk Bar fence hanging feeders. Check out the full range here.
This incredible innovation kick started the mobile calf feeder industry. With the ability to feed 30 calves at one time it was revolutionary!
Milk Bar Mobiles have come a long way in 30 years but this feeder shaped the way farmers raise their calves by allowing them to quickly and easily feed calves outside.
Check out the full Milk Bar Mobile range here.
These feeders offered a practical and exciting solution for group raising calves but still there was the health issues that farmers faced when rearing calves. Nutritional scours, poor growth rates and cross suckling. These three issues are so common that they are accepted as normal. For one person rearing large numbers of calves in a short time frame these issues needed to be addressed.
The missing link to calf health
In 1989 the first Milk Bar feeders used a commonly available teat which was not designed for gravity feed but for tube feeders. The calves fed from the new gravity feeders drank a lot faster than those fed with the tube feeder. As a result the faster feeding calves had more nutritional scours and cross suckled after feeding.
Observing that calves fed on the slower tube feeder teats were healthier, it became clear that the speed of the milk flow and the suckling action had a direct impact on calf health. This observation has been the single most influential factor in raising healthy calves.
In 1990, without the aid of search engines, research began on the calf’s anatomy and digestive system.
The importance of saliva was not widely recognised at that time. There was a lot of emphasis on milk temperature and hygiene but there was little real research on calf digestion or rearing techniques to solve the calf health issues that were global problems.
The challenge was to create a teat that fed at the same speed as a cow and that calves needed to suckle hard.
With much trial, error and head scratching the Milk Bar Teat was born in 1992. The Internal web stops calves gulping and becoming sick and the gravity design of the feeders makes life easier.
In 1992 the Milk Bar Teat was born, the first and only calf teat worldwide that delivers milk at the same speed as a cow and requires the calf to suckle in the natural way.