Stewiacke Warm-Box Milk
Bars - Free-Access Milk Feeding in Cold Calf Barns
Table of Contents
Materials List to Build 'ONE' Unit - Stewiacke
Warm-Box Milk Bar
- 1 2/3 sheets ¾-inch spruce select or equivalent plywood
- 1/3 sheet ¾-inch pressure treated plywood (optional)
- 1 - 2" x 4" x 8-feet lumber
- 3 - 2" x 4" x 8-feet lumber ripped in half to make
2" x 2"
- 1½ sheets of 1.5-inch Styrofoam insulation
- 1 pound 2-inch deck screws
- 3 hinges
- 2 latches
- 1 door pull
- wood glue
- silicone sealant
- 1/6 sheet 0.25-inch rockboard or equivalent (set behind baseboard
- 3 Peach teats, 3 one-way valves, plastic tubing (available from
local suppliers or NASCO)
- 3 - 4-inch PVC sewer pipe end caps (use 4.5-inch hole saw if
available to make proper sized holes)
- 1 - 300 watt, 110 volt baseboard heater (22-24-inches long)
- 1 - 'NOMA' outdoor, heavy-duty, multi-program, 24-hour timer
(Canadian Tire part #52-8845-8)
- 1 - duplex 110 volt receptacle
- 1 - 4-inch-square axial fan, 105 cfm., e.g., Dayton 3VU65 (ball
bearing) or 4WT47 (sleeve bearing)
- 14 gauge electrical wire, male and female connectors
- 1 custom built heat deflector / barrel stop
- 1 custom built axial fan mounting bracket
- 200 Litre (45-50 gallon) plastic barrel
- Dayton 1/20-HP gearmotor, 96 RPM, model 1LPV1
- 24 inches - 2" x 4" x 1/8" aluminium channel
for gearmotor mount
- About 33 inches - stainless steel rod for shaft - 5/16-inch
to match gearmotor shaft, or 3/8-inch, and machine for motor
- 2 - 1.5" x 6.5-inches x 1/8-inch stainless flat stock
for mixing paddles
- Rubber coupling hose - 5/16-inch i.d.
- 1 - 1" x 2" x 4" UHMW polyethylene block
- shaft bearing block
- #10 x ¾-inch SS screws
- #10 x 2-inch SS screws
- Conduit for milk lines
- 36" - 1.25-inch PVC pipe
- 1.25-inch pipe clamp
- Plastic sheet or equivalent to cover nipple wall for ease of
- Plastic sheet or equivalent to cover floor for ease of barrel
movement and cleaning
- Ceiling light (LED)
- Guide hooks for plastic milk line
Photo Album- Stewiacke Warm-Box Milk Bar
Photo 1. The warm box (#5) keeps milk at about 20°C
and prevents nipples from freezing in this cold (below freezing)
calf housing. The warm box is positioned at a pen to provide free-access
milk to a group of calves. An access door, hinges, door pull and
latches are seen in the photograph. Calves have free-choice grain,
hay, salt and minerals.
Photo 2. A single electrical plug provides power
to the gearmotor agitator, fan and baseboard heater inside the box.
Calf records are kept handy in a plastic folder. The entire box
could be moved after unplugging the power. Each pen of 5 calves
has a warm box and nipple bar.
Photo 3. A calf nurses from a nipple on the pen-side
of the warm box. The pen-side wall of the box has a plastic surface
for ease of cleaning. Each of the three nipples is mounted into
a 4-inch PVC end cap. The caps are recessed into the box. Nipples
are mounted at about shoulder height of the calf.
Photo 4. A close-up photograph shows the PVC end
cap mounted flush with the plastic-coated wall of the warm box.
To mount Peach Teats into the end cap, use a 7/8 inch hole saw to
make the hole in the end cap, lubricate the teat and pull it into
position. A 4.5-inch hole saw makes a neat hole for inserting the
PVC end cap through the plastic covered plywood. Silicone sealant
fills the gap between the end cap and plywood. The brilliant idea
to recess the end cap and nipple within the warm box prevents nipples
Figure 1. Accessories
of Figure 1
Figure 2a. Nipple Side
of Figure 2a
Figure 2b. Nipple Side Panel
of Figure 2b
Figure 2c. Nipple Side
of Figure 2c
Figure 3. Top "Exploded"
of Figure 3
Figure 4. Box Side Panels
(Left and Right)
of Figure 4
Figure 5a. Door
of Figure 5a
Figure 5b. Door
of Figure 5b
Figure 6. Heat Deflector - Barrel Stop and
Axial Fan Bracket
of Figure 6
Figure 7. Cutting Diagrams
for Plywood Sheets
of Figure 7
Photo Album - Stewiacke Warm-Box Milk Bar
Photo 5. The interior of the warm box is insulated
with 1.5-inch Styrofoam or other suitable material. The floor has
a plastic surface to assist with sliding barrels in and out. To
remove the barrel, unplug the power, pull the milk lines out of
the barrel and suspend them from the hooks.
Photo 6. A 200-L (50-gal) milk barrel fits inside
the warm box.An electrical receptacle and 24-hour timer for the
agitator are in the left corner. A thermometer rests on the bracket
for the gearmotor. A battery-powered LED light is mounted to the
ceiling above the opening in the barrel.
Photo 7. An interior view. A 300-watt baseboard heater
is the heat source and it is protected by a barrel stop. The barrel
stop also serves as a mount for a metal heat shield that protects
milk from overheating and forming cottage cheese. There is no insulation
around the PVC end caps and nipples.
Photo 8. Rockboard heat barrier protects the plywood
wall behind the electric heater.
Photo 9. A 4-inch axial fan is mounted at the top
right of the warm box. The fan has robust ball bearings and a rating
of 105 CFM. It is mounted with a hand-made metal bracket. The fan
mixes air to provide an even temperature throughout the warm box.
Photo 10. PVC end caps are mounted to square pieces
of plywood with wood screws. The plywood pieces need holes for the
ends of the nipples and the plastic milk lines. There is an air
space around the PVC end caps and no insulation. The design permits
warm air to bath the end caps and the ends of the nipples.
Photo 11. Details of construction for the nipple
mounts are more evident in this close-up view.
Figure 8. 45 gallon (200 litre) Plastic Barrel
of Figure 8
Photo Album - Stewiacke Warm-Box Milk Bar
Photo 12. This top view shows a mount for the gearmotor.
The bracket is 1 x 4-inch aluminum channel that has been attached
to the plastic barrel with four screws. A piece of plastic electrical
conduit has been inserted through the top of the barrel adjacent
to the barrel wall. Milk lines are inserted into the conduit. A
jig-saw does a nice job of cutting the opening in the barrel.
Photo 13 The agitator has two paddles welded at a
25-degree angle to the shaft. A 1 x 2 x 4-inch UHMW polyethylene
block acts as a bearing block for the shaft. The block is fixed
to the bottom of the barrel.
Photo 14. Details of conduit construction include
holes and a plastic clamp to keep it along the side wall of the
barrel. The conduit keeps the plastic milk lines from tangling with
the agitator and assures the one-way valves touch the bottom of
the barrel without curling upward.
Photo 15. Brass, one-way valves are inserted into
the end of the milk lines. The valves contain a small stainless
or plastic ball. When a calf suckles, the ball rises off its seat
and milk flows to the nipple. When the calf stops suckling, the
ball falls into its seat and milk stays in the line. Plastic valves
are also available. The valves keep milk at the nipple for the calves.
Figure 9. Modifications
to Plastic Barrel
of Figure 9
Figure 10. Shaft Bearing Block
of Figure 10
Figure 11. Motor Mount
of Figure 11
Figure 12. Mixing Rod
of Figure 12
Figure 13. Feed Tube Guide
of Figure 13
Photo Album - Stewiacke Warm-Box Milk Bar
Photo 16. At weaning time, the nipples can be covered
and protected with 'weaning cups' - plastic caps.
Photo 17. A close-up view shows the protective weaning
cup slips into the PVC end cap and protects the nipple from suckling
Photo 18. Whole milk in this extra barrel has been
acidified and is sitting for a few hours contact time with formic
acid. The milk can be mixed with the agitator.
Photo 19. A dolly eases transportation of a barrel
to a warm box.
Gearmotors, Axial Fans, Baseboard Heaters
Gearmotors, axial fans and baseboard heaters were sourced from
Acklands-Grainger, Canada, Ltd. www.acklandsgrainger.com The web
page includes a locator to help you find a dealer in your area.
Readers may be able to source comparable electrical items from their
local electrical supplier or contractor. For safety and insurance
purposes, choose components with CSA approval and use wiring methods
that meet standards for electrical codes.
An example gearmotor is Dayton Model 1LPV1. However, it does not
have CSA approval. A similar gearmotor with CSA approval may be
available from a local dealer in Canada .
Dayton 1LPV1 Gearmotor, 96 RPM, 20 Torque, 115/230V, TENV. AC Gearmotor,
Parallel Shaft, Single Output Shaft, Nameplate RPM 96, RPM @ 50
Hz 80, Input HP 1/20, Gear Ratio 18:1, Voltage Rating 115/230, Full
Load Amps 0.62/0.33, Overhung Load 50 Lb, Full Load Torque 20
In-Lbs, 60/50 Hz, Totally Enclosed Nonventilated,
Ambient 40 C, Thermal Protection None, Insulation Class B, Permanent
Split Capacitor Motor Type, Rotation CW/CCW, Capacitor Included.
This unique invention has been dubbed bovine-in-a-box, sucky-sucky
machine, the milky way, and other names by those who built it and
visitors to the farm. Leo and Bert Harbers, John, Chris, and Arnold
Vissers conceived the idea of a warm-box milk bar to feed their
calves in a cold, naturally ventilated barn. They extend a special
thank you to "Uncle" Jack Vissers who took their concepts
and made the invention a reality and Dr. Frank Schenkels who provided
thoughtful advice from day one. Since implementing free-access feeding,
Bert states "We no longer have crying babies greeting us when
we enter the nursery and I think that's a good thing." The
Vissers and Harbers produce quality cattle and milk at Winding River
Farms Ltd., 2965 Alton Road, Stewiacke, Nova Scotia B0N 2J0.
OMAFRA thanks the Vissers and Harbers for graciously providing
photographs, a materials list and construction diagrams to make
this document and for generously sharing their ideas with fellow