Computer-controlled milk feeding of calves; The effect of precise milk allocation

I. Halachmi, Y. Aharoni, A. Brosh

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of precise individual milk allowances on calves' performance at weaning. One hundred and fifty four calves were fed with milk by a computercontrolled feeder. A new real-time algorithm embedded in a software application was developed; it calculates the individual milk allocation for a calf that approached the milk feeder, according to the calf 's previous feeding behaviour. The logic behind this dynamic feeding regime is (1) that a calf that has missed meals should be compensated in order to maintain its energy balance. For instance, if a calf were ill and therefore had not consumed its entire allocation, the system should supply this calf with more energy (milk) on the subsequent day, so that it can fully recover from the illness. (2) Mild illness cannot be easily observed automatically, therefore the system uses calf feeding behaviour as an indication of illness. Two indexes of performance were utilized in this study, health and body-weight gain. The results were: daily weight gain was 691 g/day (SE 36) in the control group (CG) vs. 771 g/day (SE 36) in the experiment group (EG). The average body weights (BW) at weaning were 76 kg (CG) and 82 kg (EG). The kosher status (an indicator of health) of the best experimental group was 75%, whereas only 57% of the calves in the control group were classified as kosher. It can be concluded that under the circumstances of this study the application of precision management to the feeding of individual calves by a computer-controlled milk feeder has a potential for achieving a higher daily weight gain and improving calf health.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPrecision Livestock Farming 2005
Pages227-234
Number of pages8
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes
Event2nd European Conference on Precision Livestock Farming, ECPLF 2005 - Uppsala, Sweden
Duration: 9 Jun 200512 Jun 2005

Publication series

NamePrecision Livestock Farming 2005

Conference

Conference2nd European Conference on Precision Livestock Farming, ECPLF 2005
Country/TerritorySweden
CityUppsala
Period9/06/0512/06/05

Keywords

  • Calf
  • Computer-controlled milk feeder
  • Feeding behaviour
  • Health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology

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