We are almost at the end of calving now (yes was suppose to post this a while back!) but this season we made some big changes in our journey to streamline our calving process and make it easier each year. Like many old farms, ours has infrastructure all over the place and this makes creating a good flow hard. We can’t afford to build fancy new sheds to make life easier, but we can think a bit outside the box to achieve what we need. A big part of calving is all the motion that happens driving around feeding all the calves because of this poorly laid out infrastructure. This consumes a lot of time and money.
Motion is Waste
In a lean world this motion or transportation (transporting milk around to feed them) is WASTE. Yes it means it is not value adding. On our farm we are always thinking about how we can reduce all our motion and transport to save time and make things easier. Not only that but reducing motion and transportation saves you money – labour, diesel, maintenance just to name a few. Further not burning through diesel is better for the environment and your carbon footprint!
This year we decided that instead of having our calves in multiple locations due to our infrastructure limitations, we would set up mobile shelters so that we could centralise all our calves and save a bucket of effort!! By moving all our calves into one location we eliminated the need to drive our tractor with milk pod all over the place to feed calves. This meant a significant time saving for our team. We reduced our calf feeding time by almost 38%! Plus many other benefits like an easier process with better calf feeders, better quality control and improvement animal health management as all the young calves are always in view and can be monitored properly. We did make an investment of about $20,000 for the shelters that fit 150 calves, including new feeders etc which we feel is a pretty good investment compared to how much it would have cost us trying to build a massive shed for 150 calves!
Lean is Flexible
Often a big limitation on farms is the fixed infrastructure that has been built. Over time farm needs change and this often means that infrastructure ends up being in inadequate or poorly positioned locations. This can be an expensive thing to fix. Something we are quite conscious about is spending money on building more fixed infrastructure. Where possible we want to use portable infrastructure and facilities so that if things need to change these can easily be moved as needed to suit new work practices. This makes changes much easier and cheaper and our farming processes and options more flexible.
Check out these two part videos of what we got up to on our farm and the big difference it has made to our calf feeding.