Calf research at Akey has always been a priority. In 1999, Akey invested in a research calf nursery and has expanded it to include a grower unit for older calves. The nursery includes 100 individual pens that are used for calves between birth and 8 weeks of age. The grower unit includes 24 pens that house 4 calves per pen for calves over 8 weeks old. Every 5 weeks, 50 calves that are 2 to 4 days of age are purchased from a large dairy and started on a research trial in the nursery. After being used in the nursery trial, they then are moved to the grower pens for additional data collection. Approximately 500 calves pass through the research unit each year. Results of research trials in this unit have been used to develop milk replacers, starters, and grower feeds that are unique to the industry along with evaluating the impact of different calf management practices on growth. Reports of these results are presented to Akey customers and shared with our colleagues at other Provimi companies. Akey nutritionist and region managers use these reports to assist our customers in formulating starter and grower feeds along with choosing the optimal milk replacer product for their market.
Akey is very different from others in the feed industry. A large amount of Akey research is published as articles in the Journal of Dairy Science and the Professional Animal Scientist Journal. Several articles based on this research have appeared in nationally recognized magazines. Notable publications include research on the amino acid requirements for calves less than 5 weeks age and the responses to key and essential fatty acids in calves less than 16 weeks of age. Both areas are "firsts" in the field of calf nutrition and are gaining the attention of other researchers and nutritionists.