MOST NEW dairy farm building set-ups also include an area for rearing calves and new technology can help make this more efficient. Hygiene is paramount and now a new calf feeder from Volac means that farmers can now rear calves more hygienically and deliver any necessary specific feed additives into a target animal’s individual milk portion.

The new Urban Alma Pro has the latest computerised calf feeding technology and is capable of feeding up to 120 calves during the pre-weaned milk feeding period.

“This new machine is a great step forward at a time when the industry is focusing on sustainable, high performance calf rearing," said Volac's Jason Short. "It helps to protect calves from teat-transmitted infections thanks to an improved hygiene system that incorporates automatic teat cleaning with disinfection after every calf feed.

"Uniquely, it also has the ability to deliver the right dose of any necessary medications, such as electrolytes, to the right calf, at the right time, and incorporates a range of other innovative features and benefits to help farmers rear better youngstock more efficiently,”

The computerised feeder has touch screen technology for easy set up and alerts calf rearers to any management issues, with full WiFi connectivity to allow remote access to the system on and off the farm.

The calf milk replacer is mixed with water and an in-line temperature sensor ensures the milk always arrives at the teat at the correct temperature. The machine recognises an individual calf’s ear tag when it enters the feeding station and allocates the correct milk portion and concentration accordingly.

Once the calf has taken its feed the teat will retract and be sprayed with cold water and a disinfectant solution. Machine hygiene status has also been enhanced to allow sanitisation with acid and alkali up to four times a day, which cleans and sterilises the feed lines and bowl.

Volac calculates that compared with bucket feeding, the new machine will save producers 190 hours of labour time for every 120 calves reared. Group feeding also saves on individual pen bedding preparation.