Yesterday Kris and I helped host the Michigan Milk Producer Association's Young Cooperator Conference. For part of it, we went on a farm tour at Daybreak Dairy in Zeeland, where they use automatic calf feeders.
They're not new to the farming world, but I haven't seen them before. So they're new to me!
All farmers have to decide how many times a day they're going to feed their calves, and then they have to decide how long they're going to drink out of bottles before they move to buckets.
With an automatic feeder, you don't decide those things, because they eat all the time.
The machine reads their ear tags, and can tell when they've eaten and how much, and when they meet their maximum in a certain amount of time. If the calf hasn't eaten enough, it tells you that, so you go and chase it up and encourage it to drink.
So they're hanging out here:
And they walk up to the feeder:
This is a view from the top. You can see the top of the bottle sticking out.
And here's the machine indoors. The door is open so we could see the inner workings.
This is the milk powder mixing with the water. It smelled exactly like human formula.
It was fun seeing something new, and as always, talking farm talk with other young farmers.
I always enjoy this conference and the tours, but this marked the first time that I didn't fight sleep on the way back. This time, thanks to my friend Alex, I was able to avoid the dreaded head jerk.
(Can you believe we beat many teams with this toss? I even obviously step with the wrong foot!)
We had a great time with our planning committee, and we look forward to returning next year! Who knows what will be new on the farm we visit, what I'll learn at the meeting, or what other terrible discoveries I'll make when I look back at my pictures.