Automated milk feeding systems are becoming more popular on North American dairy farms. Canadian researchers (Medrano-Galarza et al., 2017) compared feeding management practices between dairy farms using manual (buckets or bottles) and automated milk feeding systems. The study included 670 Canadian dairies (16% automated and 84% manual) that ranged in size from 17 to 2,800 cows (average: 90 cows). The results, published in the Journal of Dairy Science, showed:
- Milk replacer was the main type of milk used among automated farms (89%), whereas only 40% of farms using manual feeding fed milk replacer.
- The volume of milk fed during their first four weeks of life was greater in farms with automated feeders (median: 520 lb. versus 410 lb.).
- There were no differences between systems in the proportion of farms allowing calves to access starter grain (97%), hay (67%), total-mixed-rations (TMR; 8%) or water (91%).
- However, the proportion of farms allowing ad libitum access to starter, hay and water was higher among automated farms (86%, 93% and 99%) compared with manual systems (70%, 66% and 81%).
Continue reading this article published in Dairy Herd Management.