Dairy farmers, Kevin, and Ciara Callanan, tell us about their dairy farm enterprise and how their system has been revolutionised since installing a JFC Agri Evolution S4 automatic calf feeder.
Kevin and his daughter Ciara operate a 200- cow Holstein Friesian dairy herd in Boherduff, Co. Galway.
“I farm in partnership with my daughter Ciara on a 330-acre farm. We operate a combination of spring and autumn calving, leaning more towards spring calving. It’s always been dairy on the farm. We supply Aurivo Co-op with our milk,” said Kevin.
Kevin is a second and Ciara is a third-generation dairy farmer, with the family having milked cows on the farm for over 60 years.
JFC Agri Evolution S4
The Callanans installed a JFC Agri Evolution S4 automatic calf feeder in 2018. The JFC Agri Evolution S4 automatic calf feeder, feeds and monitors up to 140 calves on an individual basis.
The control unit is complete with an innovative touch screen display, dual hoppers and mixing bowls. “The main reason for choosing a JFC Agri Evolution S4 automatic calf feeder was the user-friendliness of the machine.”
“We also felt that the twin hopper would allow us to feed the bulls and heifers separately. We generally keep 60 heifer calves and keep the bull calves on the farm for about three weeks.”
“We could have up to 100 calves on the feeder at any one time. It also looked like an easy keep machine from the outside, in terms of keeping it clean,” said Kevin.
In 2018, the Callanans built a purpose-built calf shed. As part of their plan to maximise efficiencies and create a streamlined process, they installed 42 JFC Agri Calf Cribs.
“After building the calf shed, we installed 42 JFC Agri Calf Cribs. We find that they are very user friendly as they are lightweight, durable and easy to manoeuvre.” Ciara said.
“A big benefit of them is the fact that you can wash and disinfect them individually for each calf. The calf crib gives the calf a great start to life for the first 10 days when we are giving them milk individually.”
“The automatic calf feeder and the calf cribs are just two ways that make life easier for us here on the farm, and we are all for that.”
Both Ciara and Kevin have seen several very positive benefits since installing the JFC Agri Evolution S4 automatic calf feeder.
Reduced labour requirement
Ciara feels that the feeder is massive in terms of the amount of labour that it saves, “For the first 10 days, we feed the baby calves individually and then they are put on the automatic feeder. Once they are put on the feeder, it’s just so easy to look after them.”
2. Saves time
Kevin believes that one of the biggest benefits of the JFC Agri Evolution S4 automatic calf feeder is the amount of time that it has saved both himself and Ciara when it comes to looking after the calves,
“Twenty minutes morning and evening now looks after the calves. The JFC Agri Evolution S4 automatic calf feeder saves us 3 hours every day.”
“That’s over 20 hours every week between morning and evening. We don’t have to hand-mix the milk replacer, clean feeders or make sure each calf is getting the right amount of milk – the calf feeder looks after all of this for us.”
“The automatic calf feeder has made life much easier for us. Calving is much easier because you know that once they are set up on the machine, they are getting what they need, when they need it.”
“They’re not hungry during the day waiting for their feed; they can get their milk when they want, which is a massive benefit of the feeder.”
3) Identifying potential problems on time
Kevin believes that the JFC Agri Evolution S4 automatic calf feeder allows them to implement corrective measures on time when it comes to calf health.
“The first thing a calf will do is reduce its milk intake when it’s not feeling 100%. On the display panel of the automatic calf feeder, we know when a calf isn’t performing or if there is something wrong when a calf’s intake is constantly reduced.”
“You’ll see it on the machine before you see it in the calf. It means that we can take action on-time and vastly reduce the impact on the calf and potential impact on the herd,” said Kevin.
4) Stress-free weaning & improved calf performance
Both Ciara and Kevin have noticed a massive improvement in their calves’ performance since installing a JFC Evolution S4 automatic calf feeder.
“At weaning time, there’s a noticeable difference in the quality of the calves. They are much more even in terms of size. Weaning is seamless.”
“The feeder reduces the calves’ milk intake gradually, and once they are completely weaned, they don’t go back to the feeder to look for milk. Weaning isn’t a massive shock to the system as they are gradually weaned off the milk,” said Ciara.
5) Ease of Use
Kevin feels that the JFC Agri Evolution S4 automatic calf feeder is very simple to use,
“We look at the screen first thing in the morning, to see how the calves are doing. We can see how often they’ve drank, when they have and if they haven’t drank at all.”
“We just have to keep the hopper topped up. It can hold about three bags of milk replacer, which is very handy,” said Kevin.
Before Vs after comparison
“We would have bucket fed the calves before getting in the automatic feeder. One of the biggest benefits of the automatic feeder over bucket feeding is that you have a better-reared calf. You’re not overfeeding or underfeeding a calf because you know exactly what they’ve consumed.”
“On the feeder, you can also see the speed that the calf drinks its milk. It really benefits the slow drinking calf because they are still able to get all their milk allocation,” said Ciara.
JFC Agri Evolution App
JFC Agri also offer a downloadable app for your phone that allows the operator to remotely monitor the Evolution automatic calf feeder range.
Ciara and Kevin are planning to start using the JFC Agri Evolution App once the parlour is complete as they feel it would benefit their system.
The Callanans will have access to all the information on the display screen of their feeder on their phones.
JFC Agri Calf Crib
The JFC Agri Calf Crib is an individual calf housing unit. The polyethylene body ensures that the calf is warm, allowing you to monitor individual calf performance in the early days of life.
They allow calves to receive individual attention and more effective feed monitoring, are easy to clean as the unit can be power hosed down and completely disinfected and are very lightweight and easy to handle and manoeuvre.
JFC customer support
Ciara and Kevin are very happy with the help, guidance, and support they have and will continue to receive from the team at JFC Agri.
“The JFC Agri team offer great insight & provide a great service. They have given us some really great advice and help, especially when I was planning the layout of the calf shed in terms of what would work best.”
“It made a massive difference being able to see two to three fully developed designs that would suit our system.”
“JFC Agri also designed a trolley for us that we could slide in under the calf cribs so that we could bring the calf crib to the calving pen, collect the calf and bring it back to the calf shed.”
“They are always coming up with new ideas. The back-up service is excellent, and I don’t say that lightly,” said Kevin.
The Callanans are currently building a new, state-of-the-art, 24-unit Boumatic milking parlour with all the extras, upgrading it from a 12 unit-parlour.
“We now have the facilities and the capacity to lean even more towards spring calving. The calf shed can handle 150 calves. Long-term, we would like to be able to milk 250 cows,” said Kevin.
The Callanans believe that both the JFC Agri Evolution S4 automatic calf feeder and JFC Agri Calf Cribs are well-priced products.
“We have been very happy with our investment. They understand farming and what farmers need and continue to create products that are innovative and offer real solutions to real problems that we as farmers are challenged with.”
For more information, contact Evolution sales manager James McGrath on: 087-1247435 or email: JMcGrath@jfcagri.com
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