Wennemars’ calf-feeding systems put the calf first. What does the calf need to stay healthy and thrive? This is a key question for the dairy sector to answer in order to rear long-lived healthy dairy cows that produce milk efficiently and without any problems.
Many factors come into play here. Wennemars focuses on the feeding system. The method of feeding influences the calf’s digestion.
Instinctively, calves drink milk with their noses up. And with good reason: a natural drinking position and a strong sucking action ensure a good oesophageal reflex.
This ensures that the milk bypasses the rumen and flows directly to the fourth stomach. If the calf sucks forcefully, it produces saliva, which causes the pH to remain stable and prevents the calf from developing acidosis. This results in better digestion, and prevents scour and ruminal drinking. The milk is digested efficiently and growth is improved.
This way of drinking is optimised using a tat that has an open connection with the milk in the bucket. The calf enjoys sucking forcefully on it.
The traditional valve teat is closed at the back with a ball, nozzle or pipe. This allows it to work like a pump, dispensing milk only from the front. The calf obtains milk merely by biting on the teat. This releases too much milk too fast and puts the calf at risk of choking. Moreover, the calf does not produce sufficient saliva, resulting in unhealthy and inefficient digestion.
Enjoy Calf Feeding (ECF) and Milk Bar have open teats. The calf is challenged to suck the milk from the bucket and may sometimes take 3 to 4 minutes to drink 1 litre of milk. Some dairy farmers believe this is too taxing for the calf, but the opposite is true: drinking slowly, a good oesophageal groove reflex and plentiful saliva prevent scour. This can lead to significant financial savings on, for example, medicines and labour. Healthy calves are a pleasure to work with.
Of course, hygiene is of the utmost importance: an open teat is much easier to clean and stays clean much longer.