QuadroFlex has transformed the CalfExpert into a completely different machine

26. April 2024 — Calf management, Practice report, Calf feeders#CalfExpert #Great Britain #Calf feeding #Management #Gains
... the calves no longer experience any stress!

The idyllic village of Llangynog is located around 100 kilometres west of Birmingham in England. This is where Mike and Jane Sharp rear groups of 120 calves from a range of suppliers based all over the UK. Mike and Jane are part of the "Blade Farming Calf Rearing" programme, a fully integrated cattle fattening organisation.

The calves adjust quickly to the feeder

The calves come to the farm at two to three weeks of age, and are all weighed on arrival. Most of them weigh around 45 kg when they arrive. All calves are vaccinated against pneumonia and ringworm at the very beginning.

Mike is now rearing his third batch of calves using his brand new Holm & Laue CalfExpert, which makes work much easier for him. When it comes to getting young calves used to the feeder, he says that the training button, which releases a small splash of milk when pressed, is a great help. Most calves quickly get used to the automatic feeder.

The calves are fed eight litres of milk a day, three times a day, and do not start to be weaned until they have been receiving milk for six weeks.

Group buckets proved unsuccessful

Prior to the CalfExpert, Mike had group bucket feeders with several teats for groups of ten calves. However, the stronger calves always obtained more milk than the weaker ones. So that didn't work out particularly well.

Mike likes the CalfExpert because he can feed more calves in the same barn and he doesn't have any competition for milk from stronger calves. The feeder ensures a consistent mixture and milk quantity, and the CalfExpert can also be used to administer medicines.

Zero stress for calves thanks to QuadroFlex

The QuadroFlex option (simultaneous feeding of 4 calves) was not implemented immediately when the CalfExpert was installed. This meant that only one of two stations could feed calves at any one time. This was pretty stressful with 60 calves arriving at once. However, when the QuadroFlex option was finally installed, it turned out to be a completely different kind of machine.

Training the calves was easy and after that, there was no more stress for the calves as they could always collect their milk from the HygieneStation. Although Holm & Laue officially state that 120 calves on the feeder should be the absolute maximum, Mike has confirmed that the system operates very smoothly with 120 calves and the calves are really relaxed.

Consistent feeding thanks to automation

Automation guarantees consistent feeding, regardless of who is responsible for feeding the calves on the farm. All the employees have to do is check the alarm list and take a look at the calves that appear on it. This is more than practical for this farm with large groups of calves.

The display was also recently installed on the HygieneStations, giving Mike and his team a clear overview at all times of which calves in the group have already fed. This is a huge help, especially when training young calves.

Making optimum use of barn space

Once the calves have been weaned, they are moved to another barn for weaned animals. The stalls are then cleaned out and prepared for the next group. Mike aims to get the most out of the CalfExpert feeder, so the time between batches needs to be as short as possible.

In future, Mike also intends to make better use of the calf data in CalfGuide. But even today, the CalfExpert with QuadroFlex is a great way of being successful in rearing calves professionally for cattle fattening.

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