Use grain bottles for preweaned calves
Ideas for more
Would you like to save steps when feeding grain to calves in outdoor
hutches? Are you tired of juggling buckets and operating side doors or
entering hutches in awkward postures to retrieve, clean or fill grain
pails? Are you trying to find a way to successfully wean calves earlier?
If so, consider feeding calf starter in grain bottles!
Grain bottles are a commercially available product which hold about 4
lbs of grain each and are made of clear plastic. They mount on the front
wire fence or on separate supports and feature a screw-type top. The calf
eats starter through a chewing nipple at the bottom of the bottle.
Grain bottles reduce bending over while feeding. If calves are housed in hutches, grain bottles save steps to and from side doors.
can save labor and milk replacer but requires early consumption of calf
starter to be successful. Present recommendations to achieve early grain
consumption include feeding starter free access from day 4, cleaning out
grain pails daily and discarding leftover grain. Only a few studies compare
grain bottles to grain pails. Researchers have noted that calves tend
to eat starter feed earlier when using bottles. The manufacturer’s
own feeding trials also indicate earlier and higher consumption of starter
feed when using grain bottles. No study, so far, has demonstrated a statistically
significant difference in terms of feed consumption or weight gain when
using bottles or pails to feed calf starter.
feed costs. Starter feed is routinely discarded when cleaning out
grain pails and when the feed is soiled with manure. The total amount
is estimated at about 13 lbs per weaned calf. Valued at about $0.16/lb,
this is a loss of about $2.08 per calf. Assuming that proper use of grain
bottles makes it feasible to wean calves 1.5 weeks earlier, calves consume
about 10 lbs less of costly milk replacer and about 15 lb more of the
less expensive calf starter. This corresponds to an estimated savings
of $5.08 per weaned calf when using grain bottles.
This material was developed by the Healthy Farmers, Healthy Profits Project, whose goal is to find and share work efficiency tips that maintain farmers' health and safety and also increase profits.
For more information, call (608) 252-1054 or visit our website at http://bse.wisc.
Material is not copyrighted. Feel free to
reproduce; please mention source: University of Wisconsin Healthy Farmers,
Healthy Profits Project, August, 2000; Second Edition.