I recently had the opportunity and privilege to work with True Farms in New York, documenting their transition from an acidified waste milk feeding system for calves to a computerized feeding system where they feed milk replacer. The folks at True Farms graciously opened their farm to my intrusions with camera, sound and lighting equipment.
Several years ago, True Farms moved from an outside hutch system for calves to an acidified waste milk feeding system. A barn was retrofitted for calves, including installation of positive pressure ventilation. This system required a large amount of labor, leading to a high rate of management turnover.
The decision was made to build a new calf facility. The barn is an open design with chimneys, sidewall curtains and fans. Sensors monitor environmental conditions, providing inputs that control the curtains and fans. In addition, the floor is sloped and grooved to drain urine, ammonia and moisture away from calves, creating a very pleasant environment. Although barn design allows for different housing and feeding options, the present setup is group pens utilizing computerized feeding of milk replacer.
This movie captures highlights of both systems and demonstrates the effects that changes in housing, environment and feeding strategy have on both calves and employees. Thanks again to True Farms for their openness and willingness to share their story in this way so that others may visit with them, tour their facility and get inspired as they consider their own calf-raising alternatives.