Imagine. You’re ready to group calves and go to automatic feeding. Now you need to get the feeding system, design the calf feeding room, create all the hookups, hire a contractor to install and commission the equipment, even potentially wait on a building permit.
What if you could skip much of that and buy a self-contained, fully functional, drop-and-go, turnkey automatic milk feeding bar? What if it had all the elements of a calf feeding room, ready for placement and hookup in an outdoor or indoor environment?
The Calf Café is a prefabricated multiple-drink-station calf feeding solution in a recycled one-way shipping container that has been invented, developed, built, tested and launched by AMS Galaxy USA (AMSG) in Kutztown, Pennsylvania.
It is equipped with the Urban CalfMom Alma Pro automatic feeding system.
“The Calf Café comes fully assembled and ships pre-commissioned,” says Brad Biehl, AMSG owner. “Simply connect the electric and water, and you can literally be feeding calves in minutes.”
Operating a Berks County, Pa. dairy farm with his father and grandfather, and interacting with his peers across the country, Biehl started thinking about how to get calf-feeding technology out to more producers in a broader range of environments.
He used his CAD software to create his dream in May. By early July, he had acquired a one-way shipping container for the prototype. The concept already had its first buyer, so Biehl and his team had the first fully-commissioned unit ready by fall.
The centerpiece is Alma Pro smart technology with 12-inch touch screen, two-phase CIP cleaning system, and flexibility to feed whole milk or milk replacer.
“Prefab touches are important,” says Biehl, pointing out the installed water heater and hose for wash up, sink for cleaning nipples and equipment, and how the conduits, drains -- all plumbing and electrical -- are hidden within in the polyurethane epoxy floors for easy hookup and cleaning.
A man-door is installed on one end of the unit with an overhead door option on the other end for pallet loading. An electrical circuit panel, switches, LED lighting and windows complete the utility package.
Each drinking station has a removable calf platform with quick-attach for set-up outside of the unit, and each drinking station is mounted in a stainless steel nipple-door that opens into the unit for easy cleaning and nipple-changing from inside.
In addition to the programmable touch screen inside the unit -- and the smart phone capabilities -- an electronic indicator is mounted on the outside of the unit to allow quick monitoring of feeder status.
“This a higher-level installation that is ready-to-go and manufactured for placement and use in a barn or dry lot with no on-farm site work,” Biehl explains the concept that is now a reality.
The first three units went to a dry lot calf ranch in California.
Each of the first three units were designed to feed 100 calves with four drinking stations -- two on each side. However, the Calf Café can be designed for up to 200 calves per unit with up to eight drinking stations -- four on each side.
AMSG makes both a mild-climate and cold-climate version with the latter containing insulation. Air conditioning is also included.
The fully functional ‘building’ is on wheels, and once positioned, the wheels lock inside to remain stationary.
Biehl sees the Calf Café as a calf-feeding solution for a variety of environments, and the team is excited to have turned his dream into a reality.
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