Calf Milk Powder benefits over whole milk
Numerous trials have demonstrated improved growth rates when calves are fed calf milk powder compared with feeding the same amount of solids in the form of whole cows milk.
Calf milk replacers are much more consistent, have added minerals and vitamins, are more digestible and have higher protein to fat ratios than whole milk. This results in faster growth rates, higher concentrate intakes and earlier rumen development.
Feeding milk replacer helps to minimise disease risk, in particular Johne’s disease. The use of waste milk also has the risk of antibiotic resistance and of feeding pathogens to the calves. This practice should be discouraged especially with calves intended to become dairy heifer replacements.
Calf milk powder has a lower cost per litre than saleable whole milk.
What to look for in a Calf Milk Powder?
Whilst most calf milk powders look the same the quality of ingredients vary enormously. It is very difficult to distinguish between a quality product and a budget product made to a price. A wide range of ingredients can be used including skim, casein, buttermilk, whey, whey protein concentrate, soya and wheat, potato, pea protein concentrates together with a wide range of fats and oils.
The cheapest milk powders available are about half the price of the best quality products. The ticket declarations are of little help and all product have a similar appearance - a creamy white powder.
Whey and vegetable proteins are much cheaper but skim, casein and buttermilk based products are digested much more efficiently. This is due to there ability to form a clot in the abomasum. The pH around the clot is at very low pH allowing the enzyme pepsin to efficiently digest the milk. Different sources of skim, or whey can vary enormously in feed value depending on how they were produced and how much protein was denatured during the drying process. Generally the higher the level of milk products in the milk powder the better.
The difficulty of distinguishing a quality calf milk powder from a budget product has meant that it has been much easier for manufacturers to sell products made to a price. Not surprisingly then most of the UK market is for whey and vegetable protein based products which contain no skim, casein or buttermilk.
Whey and vegetable protein products are generally lower in energy and are digested less well. This can result in faster uptake of dry feed so these low cost calf milk replacers do have a place.
However generally we see better growth rates with far fewer health problems when 'high quality' milk powders are used rather than calf powders made to a price.
Never skimp on the quality of calf milk powder for dairy heifers
The benefits of doing calves well should never be under estimated. An analysis on data from the Cornell herd of 1,244 heifers showed that every kg of average daily gain prior to weaning resulted in a milk yield increase of over 2,200 kg milk over 3 lactations. In addition 22% of the variation in first lactation milk production could be explained by growth rate prior to weaning. This demonstrates that it is never worth economising by using anything other than the best quality calf milk powder.
1kg extra weight gain pre-weaning = 2200 extra lifetime milk yield
Most Cost Effective for Rearing Calves?
So which is the most cost effective route? Well it depends. It depends on the rearing system that you are using and on your expectations. Are you producing a replacement heifer, the future of your herd? Are you producing a beef calf that you want to top the market? Are you producing a beef animal destined for slaughter? Are you contracting rearing to a price?
Higher quality products tend to be higher in energy with better digestibility and can often be fed at higher rates earlier without causing digestive upsets and nutritional scour. Thus higher live weight gains can be achieved.
Our view is that the best calf milk powders generally give better results and can often be cheaper to use in the long run, due to faster growth rates, lower mortality, lower vet bills, earlier weaning, reduced milk used and higher lifetime yields.
There is no question that dairy heifer calves which get off to a good start are capable of producing higher lifetime milk yields and that replacement cost per litre can be reduced by doing calves better.
Doing heifer calves well can result in
reduced dairy heifer replacement costs and increased lifetime milk yields
Equally I have seen dairy units producing bull calves to sell at a few weeks old, halve their powder and straw usage, halve their stocking rate, dramatically reduce labour costs, vet bills and mortality and improve there sale price simply by switching to a better milk powder.
Feeding top quality milk replacer is often costs less overall
Once-a-Day milk feeding of Calves
Once-a-Day feeding is a system which can deliver performance benefits over twice-a-day feeding for much less labour and less cost.
Feeding Once-a-Day is simple. 200gms of powder is made up to 1 litre with water or 60 - 100gms of powder made up to 1 litre with cows milk. Three litres of milk can then be fed straight through to start of weaning at seven weeks and then reduced by half a litre per day to wean at 8 weeks.
Both Elite Calf Milk Replacer and Shine Once-a-Day are are suitable for feeding to calves on once a day milk feeding systems.
Research shows that calves can be fed successfully on once-a-day milk feeding systems using less labour as well as less calf milk replacer. Benefits of the system are earlier weaning, improved growth rates and healthier calves. Switching from a twice-a-day milk feeding system to once-a-day could save UK calf rearers around £6/calf and cut labour input to as little as 23 seconds/calf/day.
Once a Day feeding using a high quality m ilk powder has been shown to give live weight gains up to 12% higher than feeding twice daily whole milk, and can reduce work load by up to 40%.
Once daily feeding is best suited to calf milk replacers based on skim milk powder. This is because skimmed milk forms a cheesy curd or clot in the calf’s stomach that takes over 14 hours to be digested. This clot forms using casein protein produced in the cow’s udder specifically for the calf.
All calves should be fed twice a day but feeds may consist of either two feeds of milk or milk fed in the morning followed by dry feed in the evening. Once daily milk feeding should only be introduced once calves are capable of eating a feed of dry concentrates later in the day.
Milk replacers that claimto contain milk, but make no reference to skim milk powder or buttermilk are unsuitable for once-a-day feeding at an early age since they contain no casein protein, and will not form a slowly digested clot in the calf's stomach.
Whole milk is unsuitable for Once-a-Day feeding since milk solids need to be at least 20% in order to get sufficient solids into a single milk feed. However whole milk with 50 - 100gms of milk powder added can be used successfully in a once a day system.
With the right milk replacer, a once-a-day milk feeding system works extremely well for both the calf and the rearer.
Apart from the obvious labour benefits, calves eat more dry feed and their rumens develop more quickly. This allows weaning to occur a week or two earlier, both saving labour and cutting the amount of milk replacer used. Most importantly calves actually do better.
Richard Webster Nutrition supplies a range of calf milk powders selected from several different manufacturers. We have a clear preference for using high quality milk powders, not always the cheapest but those which will give exceptional results and which are extremely cost effective.
For several years RWN supplied Kalvolac Unique which was the best calf powder that we had seen. Customers consistently reported that Kalvolac Unique produced increased growth rates and healthier calves than other calf milk replacers. Kalvolac Unique became un-available in the UK several years ago. However we now have available a range of very high quality calf milk replacers from the same manufacturer.
These exceptionally high quality calf milk powders are available in 1 tonne drops in 25kg bags at extremely competitive prices.
The best Calf Milk Replacers available to UK farmers
Elite Calf Milk Replacer is an exceptional powder formulated using skim to give calves bloom. Elite gives superb results both with calves marketed at 2 - 5 weeks of age or with dairy heifer replacements. Elite is a superb product for use in both twice day bucket feeding systems, Once-a-Day feeding systems and in computerised calf feeders. A great calf milk powder.
Extremely high quality calf powder at a very competitive price
Elite is one of the best calf powders that we have seen and at a very competitive price.
Elite produces excellent results on Once a Day feeding systems. Being skim based it has the ability to form a clot in the abomasum which is digested slowly and efficiently over 6 - 8 hours. This avoids the problems associated with most calf milk replacers which are based on whey powder or vegetable protein and which are generally much less effective when used in Once a Day feeding milk systems.
Elite is an excellent alternative to Shine Once A Day at a Lower Price
Premium Plus Calf Milk Replacer is a very high quality calf powder designed for modern dairy heifer calves. High inclusions of quality dairy protein together with combined high crude protein and high oil aim to deliver high frame growth and early rumen development in order to achieve high target weights and maximum lifetime yield.
Premium Plus can be fed to all classes of calves as well as dairy heifers and is highly recommended for both bucket rearing and for automatic computerised feeding systems. Independent trials have demonstrated higher growth rates to 12 weeks with significantly decreased costs than with skim based milk powders.
Premium Plus for High Frame Growth in Dairy Heifers
Advance Calf Milk Replacer is a specialist high fat continental style product which is designed to be mixed using a mechanical mixer. Advance is very high energy and whilst as effective as much higher priced powder is much more economical. Advance is non-instantised and needs to be mixed at relatively high temperatures using an automatic mixer.
We can supply stainless steel mechanical mixers on wheels which takes much of the work out of mixing milk powder and feeding calves. Advance milk replacer offers much lower rearing costs than standard calf milk powders.
An automatic calf milk Mixer can dramatically cut the cost of rearing calves
Gold Start Calf Milk Replacer is a very economical, low cost, yet effective whey based calf powder designed for bucket feeding to dairy heifers.
Supplementary Products and Equipment as a service to customers using the above range of calf milk replacers we offer a wide range of calf supplements and equipment including:
Calf-coats can increase performance and reduce feed costs in cold weather, below 10ºC. In recent trials at Harper Adams University with calves born between December and February, calf-coats resulted in an additional weight gain of 5.3kg to 12 weeks, whilst feed costs were reduced by £2.93 per calf.
Our Calf-Coats are very high quality and well priced especially when delivered with milk powder.
Also available: Patavie colostrum substitute. Jolivo vitamin and trace element supplement. Fibratop a specialist electrolyte and plant extract for feeding when calves have been under stress or recovering from scours.
Equipment includes a wide range of mechanical mixers, feeding equipment, troughs, pens, calf cots, hutches. High quality calf-coats, stomach tubes and colostrum bags.
Shine Calf Milk Range
The Shine calf milk replacer range includes a wide range of milk ingredients including butter milk and skim milk powder.
Download the Shine Range Leaflet
Shine Once a Day is designed specifically for Once-a-Day milk feeding. It can be fed mixed with either water or milk. All ingredients are carefully dried to ensure easy mixing, maximum protein digestibility and uniformity.
Shine Calf Milk Replacer is recommended for twice a day and machine feeding where above average performance is required. Shine contains both skim and buttermilk powders and will more than compete with whole milk. Calves can be pushed to ensure high performance from day one.
For more information about RWN Calf Milk Replacers or to place an order contact Richard Webster.