Kerry dairy farmer Kieran Savage has installed a new Volac Urban Alma Pro computerised calf feeder.
This feeder represents the very latest in computerised calf feeding technology, incorporating new features such as automatic teat cleaning with disinfectant and the latest touch screen technology giving users a simple overview of calf health and welfare.
Kieran and his wife, Anne, have a herd of 180 pedigree Holstein Friesians at Tylough, Kielduff, Tralee. The couple have four children, Cora, Micheál, Conal and Alice, ranging in age from 14 back to seven.
The herd is half and half autumn- and spring-calving with the milk being supplied to Lee Strand Co-op. They have one full-time employee, Jack Maczmarczyk while Mossie Harrington provides relief work.
The Urban Alma Pro was installed just before last Christmas. It can feed up to 120 calves at four feed stations. Kieran is using two feed stations which enables up to 60 calves to be reared at one time.
All bull calves are fed whole milk and sold at two to three weeks old. All heifer calves are now being fed on the feeder.
They are kept in individual hutches and fed whole milk for the first 10 days and then moved on to the feeder.
They are fed Volac Heiferlac, the milk replacer tailor-made for high performing replacement heifers. The calves are programmed to consume six litres/day of Heiferlac, mixed at 150g/litre. They will be weaned after 60 days on the feeder.
Kieran Savage aims to double birth weight at weaning which means a daily growth rate of around 0.8kg while calves are on the computerised feeder. Heiferlac is designed to deliver a growth rate of 0.9kg/day when mixed at 150g/litre and fed in conjunction with ad lib concentrates, quality roughage and fresh water.
“So far, so good” is how this progressive Kerry dairy farmer describes his experience to date with the computerised feeder.
“It has meant a big reduction in labour. We have no problems with scours and no digestive upsets when calves are moved on to the feeder. Calves appear to be doing very well. Overall, we are very happy,” said Kieran.