RESEARCH ARTICLE


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: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode. 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: halachmi@volcani.agri.gov.il


Abstract

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.

Methods:

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.

Results:

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.