Kids By the Cold-Milk Free-Choice Method
are many methods for feeding kids - dam-raising, bottle-raising, controlled
lambbar feeding, pan feeding and the cold-milk, free-choice method.
This will be the fourth year that I have used the cold-milk, free-choice
program. I believe the kids grow great on this program and are, overall,
more thrifty than what I experienced when bottle-raising.
What about bad bacteria growth in the buckets?
Bad bacteria growth in the bucket and subsequent danger of kids
getting sick can be controlled by how the buckets are handled. What
I do is have two sets of buckets for each pen. At least once a day I
go down with a completely cleaned bucket that is filled with fresh milk
and take out the bucket that is in the pen and that bucket goes up for
cleaning. I usually try to do that at a time when they have very little
milk in the bucket so that I am not discarding too much milk and wasting
it. All my buckets have lids that can't be knocked off which eliminates
anything getting into the bucket.
What is the incidence of FKS (Floppy Kid Syndrome) with this method? I had FKS for one year several years ago. At that time, I lost the first case and saved the subsequent ones. In the following years what I have done, is make sure that I spend a little time each day trying to watch and see if I have any kids that look funny. Otherwise I have been doing the following which I feel has helped --
I haven't had a case of FKS for the past two years since I had my first bout with it that one year.
How do you keep the milk from freezing in
the cold or spoiling in the warmer weather? I am lucky-my husband
and I are self-employed farmers and work on the farm without having
to leave for an off-the-farm job. Being at home, I can check on my buckets
enough during the day and handle problems as freezing milk, etc. by
checking more often.
How do you keep the milk from leaking on the
ground? Before I went to free-choice, cold milk , I used the red/gray
teat units that are placed at the bottom of the buckets. When I decided
to do free-choice, I went to the black nipple and tubes which they have
to suck through like a straw. As long as you do not have your milk filled
above the black nipple you will not have leakage.
How do you assure that the kids will not overeat
and get sick? First, never let the bucket get empty. If the bucket
becomes empty for a long period of time, when you put the full bucket
in, the kids will be hungry and eat more than they normally would. The
idea is to allow the kids access to the milk at all times. Then, they
are essentially nursing off the bucket the same way they would nurse
off of their dams -- little bits of milk, many times a day.
Do your kids have a harder time bonding to you their owner, since they are not being fed a bottle? I find the kids can be more manageable. You can bond with the kids but you are not bonding with them because they are storming you looking for a bottle or a lambbar that is fed at certain times. Even my neighbors who used to love coming up and feeding bottles to kids find that they don't miss feeding the bottles that much-they are enjoying a more relaxed kid. When the kids come to you they are coming to you for affection, petting, etc.-not because they are constantly looking for a bottle.
I have never
had kids grow better or with less problems than with the cold-milk,
free-choice method. I used to feed 3 or 4 times a day when bottle-feeding,
maybe feeding 48 ounces a day. I thought this was enough. I am using
much more milk now to keep these buckets filled, which leads me to believe
that I was not feeding enough milk when bottle-feeding. Nutrition is
one of the most important factors in a kid's first year of life. What
better way is there to feed than the next best thing to natural dam
raising -- by having a surrogate dam available in the form of a lambbar
that always has nutritious milk available to the kid.