We recently spoke to Ned Kelly about his farm, calf rearing and JFC’s Evolution S4 Automatic Calf Feeder.
Ned Kelly from Ballydrennan, Ballycommon, Nenagh, Co Tipperary, runs a dairy and beef enterprise with his father William. The Dairy enterprise comprises a 50:50 Holstein Friesian cross British Friesian herd. The Kellys are currently milking 120 cows. Ned and William rear all their own replacement heifers. “We keep 140 calves per year, taking out the replacement heifers and keeping the remainder until 2 years of age.”
Ned installed JFC’s Evolution S4 Automatic Calf Feeder in January 2019. “I went to the ploughing last year and hadn’t my mind fully made up if this was the route that we were going to take. I was very impressed with what I saw. The more I looked at it and we talked about it the more interested I became. “The feeder was installed in the third week of January. I had 15-20 cows calved at that stage so was able to easily transfer over to the automatic calf feeder straight away.” Having had JFC’s Evolution Automatic Calf Feeder installed, Ned admits that there are a number of clear advantages;
Reduced labour and time saving
JFC’s Evolution Automatic Calf Feeder has saved Ned a significant amount of time and reduced his workload when it comes to calf rearing on the farm. “Prior to installing the Evolution Automatic Calf Feeder we would have used a trolley that could only mix enough milk replacer for 80 calves at one time. Between mixing and feeding the milk replacer and ration, it could take anything up to an hour and a half each morning and evening to feed calves. “We knew that there had to be a more efficient way of doing this. I’m now spending no more than 15 minutes in the morning and evening, saving over 2 hours per day, which means that I have more time to focus on other aspects of the herd. It’s a massive labour saving tool. This is one of the main reasons we decided to purchase the Evolution Automatic Feeder. Help on the farm is one thing that can be in short supply so anything that frees us up is a positive thing.”
“From the point of view of calf rearing, you are safe in the knowledge that each calf is getting the same amount of milk. When we were feeding with the containers with ten teats you always thought in every pen that there were just a few bad calves. At the end of the day, what was actually happening was that they weren’t getting enough milk every day. With bucket feeding, you don’t know what volume each calf is getting. With the automatic feeder you are able to see exactly what the sucking rate of each calf is, because there is no two calves the same. “One calf could be sucking 700ml per minute while another could be sucking 140ml per minute. The calves’ rumen performance is better when on the feeder because they get fed when they are hungry, not when the farmer has time. The calf is in control of when they get fed.”
Ease of use
Ned admits that the feeder is very straight forward when it comes to operating. “The Evolution automatic calf feeder is incredibly easy to use. Having used it now for a season, there’s not one fault I could find with it. “I’ve a six year old daughter that is able to tell me if there’s a calf that’s not drinking, so that just tells you how user friendly and easy to use that the automatic feeder really is.”Identifying underperforming calves Ned believes that one of the biggest advantages of the JFC Evolution Automatic Calf Feeder is the information that the system provides him with. “The first thing that a calf will do before it becomes sick is that it will stop drinking. There’s a calf feeding button that you press that shows you a full herd overview. You can see if a calf hasn’t drank their full allotment. “The feeder highlights calves that haven’t drank and this allows us to take the right course of action in time, meaning that the calf generally does not lose condition when they are identified straight away.
Ned has found the JFC Evolution Automatic Calf Feeder to be an exact fit in terms of what he was looking for to rear his calves. “The system itself is very adaptable to suit the type of shed that you have. I was very fortunate that I had to make very few changes to my shed to allow for the four feed stations. Each of the stations can feed up to 35 calves.” “A big advantage of the Evolution Automatic Calf Feeder is that the feed stall can be cleaned with a power washer, without fear of damaging electrical equipment.”
JFC support service
Ned has found working with the team at JFC to be a very stress free and an enjoyable experience. “We have been working with the team at JFC for many years now. They understand what we are trying to achieve here on the farm, in terms of maximising efficiencies and adopting new technologies that will allow our business to grow. They are always on hand to offer advice, assistance and support whenever and wherever it is needed.” “Their service is top class and what is even better is that they are so approachable. I really couldn’t recommend them enough.”
Ned believes that there are a number of factors to remember when choosing the right calf feeder for your farm but that picking the system that suits your needs best, is key, “Make sure to choose a system that suits your set up.
“JFC’s Evolution Automatic Calf Feeder has greatly increased calf rearing efficiencies on our farm.”
• Dual hopper system, can feed two types of CMR.
• User and operator friendly.
• Quick calf registration.
• Easy to calibrate.
• Feeds four calves simultaneously.
• Visual displays of calf performance.
• Multiple feeding curves offer diverse nutritional programs.
• Automatically feeds up to 140 calves.
• Each feed station can be seven metres away from the control unit.
• Touch screen control panel.