Managing and feeding dairy calves: Farmers’ input needed!

Calfsurvey_engsurveypic_jan122015

Researchers at the University of Guelph want to find out more about the ways that dairy farmers feed and manage their young dairy calves. Whether they feed calves by hand or use an automated milk feeding system, dairy farmers across Canada are encouraged to fill out a brief online survey.

The survey will gather information about farmers’ experiences feeding and managing their young calves and help researchers identify reasons why some producers have switched to automated feeding and why others have kept on using manual feeding methods. The survey also will help identify the perceived advantages and challenges both groups of farmers face with these two feeding systems, and document some of the key management practices that characterize both types of systems.

The information from producers will help researchers identify specific areas where more research is needed to help strike a balance between the use of available technology and the implementation of good management practices to optimize the performance and well-being of calves. Future on-farm research with automated milk feeders will help identify and refine best management practices to facilitate the successful integration of this equipment on farms.

The survey will be online at the web site address described above.  The first 10 people to complete the survey will receive a Tim Horton’s gift card and all respondents who complete the survey will be entered into a draw to win a $250 cash prize.

The project “Innovative feeding and best management practices for the very young dairy calf to improve calf performance, welfare, and future productivity” is funded under the Dairy Research Cluster Program.

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