Studies have shown that feeding larger amounts of milk reduces the number of "unrewarded" visits to an automated calf feeder.

"Efficiency of automated feeders can be improved if the amount of time that each calf spends at the feeder in visits when it is not entitled to be fed is reduced," says Marcia Endres, extension dairy scientist at the University of Minnesota.

In a recent University of Minnesota Dairy Extension article, Endres discusses the advantages and challenges of automated calf feeding systems, as well as upcoming research initiatives.

"Our research team is planning to collect data from many operations using automated feeders to document labor costs," Endres says. "It is possible that labor time is not necessarily reduced (with automated feeders), but the type of labor changes."

Endres and colleagues also plan to study what management strategies are most commonly and effectively used on farm to improve the efficiency of automated feeders. 

"Automated calf feeders and the housing facilities where they are used represent a new technology that needs study in order to understand housing and management characteristics that enhance calf welfare and dairy operation profitability," Endres says. "We expect to start on-farm data collection this summer/early fall."

More information.

Source: University of Minnesota Dairy Extension