Intake Based Milk Allocation Improves Health and Growth of Calves

I. Halachmia, b, *, A. Shabtayb, A. Asherb, R. Agmonb, A. Orlovb, M. Mazaribeb, A. Zuabib, A. Broshb
a Institute of Agricultural Engineering, Agriculture Research Organization (A.R.O)., P.O.Box 6, Bet, Dagan 50250 Israel
b Section of Beef & Dairy Cattle - Newe Ya'ar Research Center., A.R.O., P.O.Box 1021. Ramat, Yishay 30095 Israel

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© 2011 Halachmi et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Institute of Agricultural Engineering, Agriculture Research Organization (A.R.O)., P.O. Box 6, Bet, Dagan 50250 Israel; Tel: +972-506-220112; Fax: +972-3-9604704; E-mail:


The problem:

The same feeding plan can be applied to all animals with individual differences rarely considered. On the contrary, individual intake-based feeding regime claims that if a calf has missed meals and therefore could not consume its daily milk allocation, it should be compensated.


The objective of this study was (1) to compare ‘age-based milk allocation’ with calf individual ‘intake-based milk allocation’ (milk amount depending on the actual consumption). The study achieved its objective through the following phases (2) to design a real-time algorithm, (3) to embed the algorithm in the feeder’s control software, (4) unique mechanical design capable of the computer-controlled feeder.

One hundred and fifty male calves were fed. If a calf has not consumed its accumulated milk allocation from birth to date it receives an additional 1.5 liters (L) per day until it has consumed the entire planned amount.


Daily weight gain was 691 g/day in the age-based group vs. 794 g/day (SE = 36) in the intake-bared group. The average body weights (BW) at weaning were 76 kg vs. 82 kg. The indicator of health 57% vs. 66%.

Keywords: Precision livestock farming, calves, computer controlled milk feeder, individual milk allocation, feeding behavior.