Published on Wed, 04/19/2017 - 10:32am


Setting the Standard for Increased Growth in Calves

By Steve Weisman, Sponsored by Calf-Star

Today’s dairy producers are continually working to improve the health of their entire herd. Keeping calves healthy and robust means dollars and sense for dairy producers. For this to happen, however, the calves must receive proper nutrition in a clean environment to ensure improved mortality rates and the potential for greater milk production as the calves move to adulthood.  
According to Greg Abts, owner of Calf-Star, LLC (, a New Franken, WI company, that’s exactly what his company provides: customized calf feeding solutions for today’s dairies. Greg says, “This is what we do! We provide dairies with a full line of products designed to maximize each calf’s growth potential.” By doing this, Calf-Star is able to help increase each dairy’s bottom line profit. Whether it is a single product that will help simplify or improve a feeding situation or a product that will provide a customized total calf feeding solution, the Calf-Star sales force and local dealers work with dairy producers to meet their needs.
Minnie Ward, Upper Midwest Sales Representative states, “The key to their success is the quality products and support from Calf-Star, along with the locally trained dealerships located throughout the country.” According to Ward, “Each dealer has service technicians that have been trained through Calf-Star. The dealers know that they can always go to Calf-Star for support.”
Ward believes that Calf-Star products are user friendly. Products are installed and support is given to help dairy producers feel comfortable using the products.  

WG Dairy Supply has two locations in Ohio and one in Michigan. They agree with the quality and how user friendly the Calf-Star products are. “As a dealer in Ohio, Western PA, Eastern IN and Southern Michigan, we strive to offer the most innovative solutions in the dairy industry to our customers. The Calf-Star line of equipment is the most innovative calf feeding systems on the market. We are pleased to be serving our customers’ needs in managing their calves more efficiently and helping them achieve better growth and health results.”
Greg agrees and notes that a product that has really taken the dairy world by storm is the H&L 100 Automatic Calf Feeding System. It is programmable to meet the needs of each individual calf and also designed to provide milk delivery options including whole milk along with liquid and powder dosing options. Each unit can handle four stalls and can feed 100-120 calves. Missy Abts, who is in charge of Internal Sales, explains how the system works. “A second mixing bowl allows two calves to drink at the same time their own individual ration.” She notes that with other competitive machines, while they have the ability to feed four calves with one mixing station, these calves are all drinking from the same ration. So, if a producer wants to have a special ration for a certain calf then only that calf can drink, meaning all other three stations are shut down while that calf drinks.
Missy says, “With the H&L 100 we can have two calves drink their own individual ration at the same time. A second mixer bowl will allow two calves to drink at once. She says, “While we have been promoting and selling the H&L 100 for seven years, in 2015 we were excited to introduce the new HygieneStation at the World Dairy Expo. The new HygieneStation is the most hygienic stall in the world.”

Ward says, “Tests show us that hygiene is very important to the health and well being of the calves. With the HygieneStation, nothing is transferred from one calf to the next. It can automatically flush out and clean the whole milk pipeline right to the nipple after each feeding.”
Ward elaborates, “The system is very user friendly, and the bacterial load is greatly reduced with the nipple cleaned after every visit. There is a three second delay between feeding while the nipple is cleaned.” After every visit, the mixer bowl and the tubing to the nipple are rinsed with clear water so that no milk residues remain in the system. The H & L 100 starts a wash cycle automatically at least twice a day and more frequently with a whole milk diet.
In addition to the cleanliness, the nipple is positioned so that it slants downward in a natural drinking position. “The angle is the same as that of the mother’s nipple. This retards aspiration and pneumonia. As soon as the calf lifts the nipple, a small amount of milk goes into its mouth,” notes Ward.
Greg says, “This process makes it more like a cow feeding a calf in the pasture and leaking the milk. The HygieneStation pumps only a small amount of milk, only what the nipple holds. The auto-teach feature helps teach calves the initial drinking process.”

Justin Wagner of Wagner Farms near Litchfield, MN says that the Holm and Laue hygiene feeder is a vast improvement over the previous design. “It’s much easier to train calves with the nipple angle and primer button. Daily maintenance is simpler; the mucous tray is easy to wash. It has a self-cleaning nipple washer and the nipples are very easy to change with the snap-back feature. It also identifies calves much quicker through the RFID tags. The stall sides are easier to wash down. I feel it has been a great investment and worth consideration on other farms.”

H&L 100: a calf manager
That’s what Greg sees with the H&L 100. “This system is truly a calf manager. It can be a true time saver. It is a programmable system that handles everything, and it saves a tremendous amount of time and labor. Everything is measured and monitored to ensure the exact amount and precise amount is given to each calf. The goal is to reduce costs and improve returns.” Erf Family Farms is located near Monroeville, OH and owner, Kevin Erf agrees with Greg. “With the installation of the H&L 100, it has allowed us to be a calf manager and not just a calf feeder. It has also allowed us to double our
operation without adding any extra labor costs.”
Research has shown that optimum and early nutrition promotes the calves’ future high performance potential. To this end, further research has shown that by using an optimized feeding program, they will produce 10 percent to 20 percent more milk.
Both Abts and Ward sum it up by saying, “Consistency, complete consistency.” According to Ward, “Often times dairies will have multiple people handling the feeding. When that happens, things aren’t always consistent, and the feed amount can vary by the individual. The H&L 100 takes all of the human factors out of the equation.”
Missy adds, “Calf-Star is the complete calf solution for any dairy.  We have everything available from a 3.5 gallon Mini Batch colostrum pasteurizer to a 30 gallon per minute HTST pasteurizer. We carry everything for automatic calf feeding including a Milk Jug milk cooling system for the H&L 100 to feed whole milk to the calf.  We believe we are the calf experts in the industry. Calves are our only focus! Along with a complete solution for the calf raiser, we have the support team to best serve our customers.”