Naturally, young calves are bound to drink milk from their mother cows. However, it has been a practice in many ranches to remove them from their mothers immediately at birth. This is for the tendency of some mothers to abandon their calves. Also, if not, the calves are likely to suckle on dirty teats, which we want to avoid in raising them healthy. For these reasons, calves are bottle-fed as a convenient and productive alternative. However, if we have multiple calves, manual bottle feeding is likely to take up too much time and labor. Thus, the best automatic bottle feeders for calves are invented as a solution.
The best automatic bottle feeders for calves are technically not like our traditional bottle feeders. They are giant feeding stations that automatically prepare calf feed for us. Calves can feed from them through the nipples attached, which are bound to imitate cow teats. This makes for a simulation of a natural cow feeding practice. These are the best automatic bottle feeders for calves:
1. Biotic Id-Tek II. Automatic RFID Calf Feeder
2. Wotefusi Automatic Calf Feeding Machine
3. Lely Calm
4. Holm and Laue HL100 Automated Calf Feeder
5. DeLaval CF1000S Calf Feeder
6. Forster-Technik VARIO Smart Automatic Feeder
7. GEA DairyFeed J
Not only are automatic bottle feeders beneficial for expert cattle farmers, but also for those who are prospecting yet. This is as they can purchase young calves as first members of their cattle farm instead of buying older ones. But for both expert and beginner cattle farmers, bottle feeding young calves provides fulfillment in witnessing our calves grow healthy.
Biotic Id-Tek II. Automatic RFID Calf Feeder
The ID-Tek automatic calf feeder machine replaces the need for manual bottle feeding. To operate with this machine, the calves have to wear an RFID ear tag. This tag is read by the Tag reader to identify which calf is present in the stall. Then, the machine proceeds to mix milk replacement powder and warm water from the machine’s heater. The mix then is dispensed to the calf based on its individual specific requirements.
Generally, the machine can hold up to 50 pounds of milk replacement powder. This much can accommodate up to roughly 28 calves. Also, the machine operates 24 hours a day, which allows the calves to feed the way they would naturally. This feature is more times better than bottle feeding them manually about 2 to 3 times a day. Moreover, we can monitor and make sure that every calf has been fed through the machine computer. This is as it records the mixings for every individual calf over a 24-hour period. Thus, we can pinpoint which calf has not been into the stall to feed.
Additionally, the machine can be set up in any type of building without any special hookup requirements. This feature addresses the fact that calves are animals that roam freely, unconfined to a small pen or hutch. The only things that the machine requires are an electrical outlet within 6 feet and running water.
- Feeds up to 28 calves
- Mixes milk replacer and warm water only when a calf is in the stall
- Monitor individual calf’s feeding consumption
- Pre-set program to control quantity per day for every calf
- 50-pound capacity milk powder hopper
- 2.5-gallon capacity water heater
Wotefusi Automatic Calf Feeding Machine
Wotefusi features improved efficiency of feeding in their automatic bottle feeders for calves. Technically, a Wotefusi feeding machine does not look like our traditional milk bottle, but it pretty much functions as that. It has 10 pieces attached around its 304 stainless steel construction to accommodate up to 15 calves. Aside from that, it keeps the milk in store fresh for a long time through its Polyurethane insulation layer. It also has a heating function to ensure that our calves only feed on warm milk. Also, the machine features a leakage protection device for milk storage safety.
Moreover, the feeding machine is a great introduction to automatic acidified milk feeding for calves. Its mechanism allows for an added 30 ml of acidified solution in every 1 kilogram of milk in the milk pot. The temperature of the milk is kept at 4.5 to 8 degrees for best results. During acidification, the acidified solution is poured into an acidified pot. There, the solution is to be stirred quickly to the maximum speed. In five minutes, if there is no milk block, the speed can be lowered to 15rpm.
Generally, the stirring occurs for 5 minutes in every 30-minute cycle. And after eight hours, the acidified milk is good as finished. During winter, the milk can be heated between 10 and 15 degrees using the automatic temperature control. It is advised that the electric heating be opened in winter prior to calf feeding.
- 304 stainless steel construction
- 110V power
- 150W electric heating
- 10 feeding nipples
- Accommodates around 15 calves
- Polyurethane insulation layer
- Great introduction to automatic acidified milk feeding
The Lely Calm automatic bottle feeders for calves enable unlimited access to freshly prepared milk. This is during the first 35 days of the calves. Gradually, the milk supply is decreased to zero in the next 35 days to stimulate roughage and concentrates intake. These two are essentials for developing the animals’ good rumen health. Also, the stimulation should positively influence fertility, vitality, milk yield, and lifetime for the growing cows.
Each Lely Calm machine comes equipped with a HygieneBox for a fully automated cleaning process in just 2 steps. First, the teat is washed with fresh water every after a calf drinks from it. The teat though, is already made of a hygienic material that is exceptionally dirt-repellent. Then, second, the interior is cleaned with water and 1 to 2 detergents. Thus, we can guarantee optimal hygiene to raise healthy calves.
Moreover, the machine comes with a smart management system. This system primarily collects and stores information for the health of the calves. We can access the data using practical tools such as T4C management system, CalfCloud, and CalfApp. Thus, we can closely monitor whether all our calves are drinking from the machine diligently.
- Freshly prepared milk
- Dirt repellent hygienic teat
- Smart management system
Holm and Laue HL100 Automated Calf Feeder
The automatic bottle feeders for calves from Hold and Laue are proven robust and easy to operate. Aside from that, they encourage healthy growth of strong calves by their individual hygienic milk preparation. In particular, milk preparation allows for a consistent fresh milk mix for every calf that feeds from the feeder. The milk residues, if any, are maintained warm and are rinsed out of the system for longer drinking pauses. Also, the mixing has a considerably fast rate, ensuring that the milk is dispensed within just 3 seconds.
Moreover, the mechanism of the feeders allows for specifying priorities in the CalfExpert menu. This is so that sick or younger calves will be given preferential treatment. Also, it has a flextime program that spreads the calves’ feeding time evenly throughout the day. This will prevent the calves from clustering around the stalls and will reduce their waiting times.
In the matter of hygiene, the feeders have a HygieneStation, which rinses the milk tube through the teat. Additionally, the complete milk system is cleaned and sanitized a couple of times per day. The washing practice of CalfExpert uses a cycle in the order: rinse, alkaline, rinse, acid, rinse. This assures that the entire system is secure from potential bacteria development. The HygieneStation display can be mounted on the station or on the wall. This will display the relevant data about a calf in a calf group.
- Stainless Steel Construction
- Single unit can feed 100 to 120 calves
- Optional second mixer bowl for 2 simultaneous feedings
- All programmable
- Liquid and Powder dosing selections
- Washes feeding tube between each calf
- Rugged design for feeding stall
- RFID TAG or collar tag
- HygieneStation for HL 100 and CalfExpert
- Tube cleaning through the teat
DeLaval CF1000S Calf Feeder
This model from DeLaval allows remote connectivity so that we can access data about our calves’ feeding behavior. We can do this using our smart devices such as phones or tablets. With these features, we can easily utilize the feeder’s intensive feeding capabilities for calves. Also, we can help increase our calves’ daily ration and intake frequency up to how much we desire.
According to the Dairy Calf and Heifer Association, the recommended milk intake of calves is double their birth weight. This should last within their first 60 days to ensure optimal health and potential milk yields when they grow. The CF1000S of DeLaval can help us achieve this growth rate objective by doing the guesswork in feeding. Also, its exclusive calf feeder software suits every individual calf’s feeding pattern. This is done by allowing the software to carry over the remaining feed from the previous day.
Generally, this calf feeder model will save us a significant amount of labor by its automatic feeding system. Aside from that, it allows for control over cost for feeding and calf feeding operation. On the part of the calves, conversely, they are benefited with faster growth rates and optimum health. Also, we can guarantee lower rates of mortality and morbidity and early cow reproduction among those who choose the best automatic feeders for calves.
- Intensive calf feeding
- Individual calf feeding program tracking
- Remote connectivity using CalfApp
- Automatic feeding amount deductions
Forster-Technik VARIO Smart Automatic Feeder
The VARIO model from Forster-Technik smart feeds approximately 120 calves around the clock. We can also guarantee that it only dispenses freshly prepared feed in a period of 24 hours. Typically, the model offers up to four feeding boxes for simultaneous feeding. The calves are individually identified by the system via a neckband transponder or an electronic ear tag. With this, the calves will be served their portions, which are optimized according to their age and specific needs.
Moreover, this automatic feeder allows the simulation of a calf’s natural feeding behavior. This is by allowing the calves to feed anytime when they feel like it. This will ensure ideal nourishment provision to our calves, which as well lay a strong foundation for productive cattle. In case a calf’s feeding behavior changes, the VARIO smart automatically reports it. Therefore, we can be notified quickly to execute quick responses to prevent potential illnesses.
In the hygiene matter, the feeder features an automatic cleaning that ensures the highest level of sanitation. Thus, we can be assured that our calves are not exposed to any bacteria that can potentially grow in the unit.
- Simulates natural calf feeding behavior
- Dispenses freshly-prepared feed around the clock
- Precise dose quantities
- Optimal temperature
- Individual calf feeding plans and tracking
- Automatic cleaning
- Remote connectivity using CalfApp and CalfCloud
GEA DairyFeed J
The GEA DairyFeed J calf feeders swear by an ultimate all-round nutrition to provide to our calves. Specifically, they provide individual drinking curves so that the nutrition we provide our calves suit their individual needs. We can use the simple operation manual terminal to set new values according to each calf’s feed needs. Moreover, the feeders allow us a clear view of everything inside the feeding station. For one, the transparent funnel allows us to see the fill level so that we can adjust the portions immediately. We do not need to worry about estimation for these feeders as they have an auto-calibration feature. This feature checks and manages the portion weights for us.
Additionally, the DairyFeed J has + versions such as the C400+, V600+, and V640+ calf feeders. These versions have more buttons and a larger and easier to read display for an innovative user interface. In fact, we can even adjust the display contrast and brightness for our convenience. But beyond that, these feeders identify with precision our animals quickly. They also dispense feed with much hygiene via a thorough feed preparation.
The versions, despite their common functions, have different specifications and advantages. For one, the C400+ can be used to dispense fresh milk, milk powder, or combined. It has up to 35 kilograms of powder capacity and can accommodate up to 50 calves. The V600+, on one hand, can be used either as milk powder or a combined machine. Lastly, the V640+ can be used either as fresh milk or a combined machine. Both the V600+ and V640+ can also hold up to 35 kilograms of powder. However, they can expand to up to 50 kilograms capacity using a stainless steel bowl.
- Individual calf feeding plans and tracking
- Clear feeding station interior view
- Auto-calibration feature
- Fully automated
- Innovative user interface
How do we introduce bottle feeding to young calves?
For both manual and automatic bottle feeding, we can start by letting a calf suckle on our fingers. This is an observed natural behavior among calves. While sucking on our fingers, we can then gently slide the nipple of the feeder into the calf’s mouth. And of course, slowly, we can take our fingers out. However, it may take a while before a calf fully accepts the feeder, so we have to be persistent. We can try smearing some of the milk all over the nipple so that it will have a flavor. This as well will help the calf get the idea of the feeder.
But in case a calf does not suckle on our fingers, we may have to pry its mouth open gently. Then, we can force the nipple in at least for the first time or the second. Moreover, if our bottle-feeding introduction involves new equipment, the nipple might be too stiff for young calves. For this, we might need to enlarge the nipple hole slightly by cutting a tiny X on it. We should make sure that the cut is all the way through for it to be useful. However, we should not cut too big that the calf cannot handle the dispensed milk and might choke on it.
How can we deal with calves that won’t nurse off either on cow teats or bottle feeders?
There can be extremely stubborn calves that do not nurse off on their mothers or on bottle feeders. There is no exact way to deal with them, but we can let them try fasting for up to 36 hours. This is only if the calves are several days old and in good shape, and if the weather is not extremely hot. The purpose of fasting is so that they become very hungry. Once starved, they will be forced to accept the feed we are trying to work on them.
Otherwise, we can also opt for a tube or esophageal feeder, which can be a bit scary to learn to operate. It is easy to learn, though, as ranchers say, and is an exceptional game changer.