How often are you calibrating your equipment? When is the last time you checked your milk distribution system to be sure you are feeding the proper amount? When is the last time you calibrated you auto feeder to be positive the amount of water and replacer is correct? Have you checked to make sure your thermometer is spot on for your milk? What about your scale?
Many times, you can end up going months, or even years without checking these things to make sure they are properly calibrated. These things can slowly sneak up or down on you, and one day you might realize that you have been cutting your calves short on milk replacer because your scale was off by 4 lbs. or that you have been feeding your calves milk that is actually only 96F because your thermometer was off.
While this is a tedious task to constantly go around calibrating your equipment, it can make or break your calf program. As you know, calves thrive on consistency, so making sure that your equipment is correct is a big deal.
How often should you be checking things?
For things like your BRIX refractometer, and other sensitive equipment, they should be calibrated every time you use them. Other things that should be calibrated frequently include equipment used to check total serum proteins and pH readers.
We recommend calibrating all feeding equipment weekly, especially the final amount of milk being delivered to the calves. Final amount of milk delivered can be a slow change, but even shorting your calf a pint can have effects on your growth and health, even more so if you are on a “limit fed” milk program.
As for scales and thermometers, those things can be calibrated less frequently, monthly to quarterly, but should still be on the list!
This is especially important if you have automated equipment, because even though they may be self calibrating, that doesn’t always mean it is accurate. This is especially important for things like automatic calf feeders and other “auto calibrate” equipment because there could easily be a malfunction that you might not notice until it’s too late.
Lastly, always make sure you take at least 3 samples to be sure your equipment is both accurate and consistent in its measurements.
If you haven’t checked these things recently, check into it. You might be surprised what you find!