Calves at CY Heifer Farm in Elba, N.Y., have been housed in groups and fed by a computerized feeder for about a year now. The transition began in February 2008, and farm manager Jeanne Wormuth says the switch from individual housing and feeding has produced many positive changes for the business.

However, Wormuth says that while the machine does feed the calves, you have to remember that a skilled calf person needs to be walking the calves. The automatic feeders give valuable information and provide many tools with which to improve your calf-feeding regimen, but there is still nothing as good as the additional human eye.

Wormuth states that one of the walk throughs for the day should be without looking at the automatic feeder's information. That makes you look at each calf without biased thoughts. Your calf person needs to be skilled at looking for signs of an off calf and then use the machine's readouts as a diagnostic tool to improve that calf's outcomes. A great calf person on staff is an important key to the success or failure in using one of the automatic feeders.

Read “Advice for those considering automatic calf feeding,” for more tips from CY Heifer Farm.

Source: Dairy Calf and Heifer Association