The benefits of feeding colostrum or milk with a tube that is flexible throughout its whole length, has been demonstrated in a trial.
Compared to a ‘rigid’ feeder, the full-length flexibility of the Trusti Tuber allowed feeding to be done more quickly. And calves also showed fewer behavioural and physical signs of stress.
Soft flexible tube
Designed by New Zealand-based vet Ursula Haywood, the tube has a mouthpiece that sits comfortably against the calf’s muzzle. A soft flexible tube is then passed through the mouthpiece and its flexibility making it easy for the calf to swallow it down. This swallowing action directs the tube over the airway and safely into the oesophagus.
Split into two groups
The trial was carried out on a New Zealand dairy unit by a producer experienced in tube-feeding. Calves of fewer than four days old and of mixed breeds and sizes were split into two groups of 15. One group was fed two litres of colostrum with a ‘rigid’ feeder – a stiff-ended tube – and the other with the Trusti Tuber. Milk flowed down the latter more quickly and the time taken was 73 seconds compared to 132 seconds with the rigid feeder. Calves also kicked and bawled less, and had a heart rate increase of only four beats per minute while those fed with the rigid feeder averaged an increase of 34 beats per minute.
A video showing the Trusti Tuber in action can be found at: www.dairyspares.com. The Trusti Tuber starter kit retails at £55 plus VAT and includes the flexible tube, mouthpiece, a four-litre bottle, and a conventional feeding teat for the bottle.