Earleywine pointed to additional data that showed feeding calves on a higher plane of nutrition increased 12-week weights of calves – a timeframe that accommodates the transition through weaning. He believes there are other welfare benefits to autofeeders, for both calves and people.
“Allowing calves to act on their natural instincts to eat when they are hungry and then have plenty of resting space has to be less stressful on the animals,” he said. “At the same time, full-potential nutrition is helping to produce more quality calves. And I think most producers would agree that the quality of their lives since adopting autofeeders also has improved.”
To help individual producers assess the economic impact of installing an autofeeder system, Jennifer Bentley and Kristen Schulte with Iowa State University Extension have developed an
“Economics of Automated Calf Feeding” financial series. It includes a budget worksheet, Excel® based spreadsheet, and user guide. A producer can input individual values and estimates for their operations and can calculate the net financial impact and change in cash flow with the switch to autofeeding.
The materials can be accessed at http://www.extension.iastate.edu/dairyteam/calves-heifers under “Factsheets.”
Coming in Part 2:
Profiles of calf raisers who have adopted autofeeders.