Calf-Star: North America’s Calf Rearing Specialist

Published on Wed, 02/22/2017 - 3:26pm

Calf-Star: North America’s Calf Rearing Specialist

By Steve Weisman

In the dairy industry, producers understand that their success revolves around the health and wellbeing of their herd. The health of their young calves is of utmost importance, and scientific studies have demonstrated that by treating calves to an effective feeding program as early in the first weeks of their life, considerably higher milk production can be expected in the future.
This is where, Calf-Star LLC (, located in New Franken, Wisconsin has become an important partner for dairy producers, as a manufacturer that offers custom calf feeding solutions tailored to meet each producer’s specific needs. Calf-Star is about helping dairies become more efficient, cost effective and profitable by offering the best in calf rearing solutions - everything from calf milk pasteurizers to automatic calf feeders and dispensers to calf housing. According to Minnie Ward, Sales Representative and Calf Specialist, Calf-Star can provide everything from a single product that will help simplify or enhance a feeding situation to a product that will provide a customized total calf feeding solution.
Ward notes, “We are here to give dairy producers the best custom calf feeding solutions and to help dairy producers learn how to use these products.”

Scientific studies have demonstrated that by treating calves to an effective feeding program early in the first weeks of their life, considerably higher milk production can be expected. Calves that are consistently fed the correct amount of milk diet, at the proper temperature and the highest quality will be less susceptible to future diseases, grow faster and continue to exhibit a more consistent performance.
As a result, one of most sought after products is the H&L100 Automatic Calf Feeder, which has established itself on farms all over the world as the sound basis of performance-aware calf rearing. 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. Five different feeding programs as well as individual settings are available for every single calf. Each unit can handle four stalls and can feed 100-120 calves. It’s all about consistency and making certain each calf gets the proper amount of milk. The bottom line is the H&L 100 helps producers reduce costs, improve returns and save labor time.
Always working to improve their products, Calf-Star introduced their new Hygiene Station in 2015. According to Greg Abts, owner and manager, the Hygiene Station is the only system like it on the market. “After each calf’s feeding, the nipple is sprayed with a sanitizer to eliminate bacteria, and the entire milk pipeline right to the nipple is flushed after each visit.”

Ward adds that another positive for the system, is the position of the nipple. “It is designed to be as natural as possible, trying to mimic Mother Nature.” In other words, the entire process is like that of a cow feeding a calf. Thus, the Hygiene Station is not only hygienically superior, it also provides an auto-teach feature to help teach calves the initial drinking process.
Justin Wagner of Wagner Farms near Litchfield, MN says that the Hygiene Station 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.”
One of the issues on many dairies is often space. This is especially true when using an automatic calf feeding system, which requires clean, cool milk. Often times there is no room for a full-sized bulk cooler for cooling milk. To address this issue, Calf-Star has designed the perfect complement for the H&L 100 Automatic Calf Feeder system: the Milk Jug. The Milk Jug offers a compact portable means for cooling milk, It is designed to fit next to the feeding system, and with its elevated drain height, the milk hose is easily connected to the H&L and provides gravity fed milk without the need for a milk pump. It also has a washing system, Clean in Place (CIP), which is designed to quickly and efficiently minimize downtime when in operation. Abts says, “We have now developed the Double Milk Jug, which gives dairy producers two compartments and a non-stop supply of milk. When one compartment is empty, it switches over to the second tank and washes the first tank so it is ready for the next supply.”
The MilkTaxi 3.0 is an all-in-one machine that heats, stores, cools, pasteurizes and mixes milk replacer. It is also a “taxi” and offers dairy producers the option of being able to move the unit from place to place. It is an incredibly easy way to bucket feed. Abts notes, “The MilkTaxi 3.0 can now be updated with software and a Smart ID module so each calf can be identified. Each calf will get fed a feeding curve with the exact amount of whole milk and powder mix to get to the desired solid level.” The data collected can then be downloaded to a computer that holds each calf’s history and updates. The MilkTaxi 3.0 also makes it easier to feed calves in hutches. This new model will be called the Milk Taxi 4.0 and will be available for upgrade in the near future. The MilkTaxi 4.0 will make it even easier to feed calves in hutches.

Karen Naatz, a dairy producer from Mantorville, MN, says this about using the MilkTaxi. “This is one of the best investments we have made for the calves. The calves seem healthier, each calf gets the correct amount and at the right temperature every feeding. I haven’t had any large scour outbreaks since we started using the MilkTaxi.”
“In this entire process,” says Abts, “we are trying to offer dairy producers the most consistent, most accurate, safest and cleanest precision feeding system in the world.”

Holm & Laue
Since 1991 Holm & Laue (H & L), located in Westerrönfeld, Germany, ( has been developing state-of-the-art feeding technology for performance-aware calf husbandry. Originally, only Northern German farmers were customers of the company. Today, however, it is a worldwide customer base. H & L’s solid and weather-proof systems form the basis of labor-saving and healthy calf rearing around the world. Many characteristics that are considered standard in today’s feeding technology originate in developments from Holm & Laue. In the course of all these years, the automatic calf feeders were enhanced and extended with calf feeding and calf husbandry innovations.
Professor H. J. Laue and graduate engineer H.J. Holm are both the founders and the managers of Holm & Laue. Both know what the job is about in practice because they have an agricultural background and started into their professional lives with such an apprenticeship. Professor Dr. Achim Laue continues to hold a chair for Animal Nutrition at Kiel University of Applied Sciences. Graduate engineer (Dipl.Ing. FH) Achim Holm manages the operations of the enterprise.

H & L’s goal is to offer customers everywhere in the world—or, at least in regions where calves are raised—the same highly professional advice that its customers next door, in Northern Germany, have come to appreciate. To be able to provide this quality, H & L has established a strong dealer network that receives continual training and product updates.
Missy Abts, who is in charge of Internal Sales, says, “We believe that Calf-Star is the complete calf solution for any dairy. Calf-Star dealers are located throughout much of the United States and Canada where dairy cattle are raised.” 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.”
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