How Do Calf Milk Replacers Differ?
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 pepsin to diet the milk very efficiently over 12 - 14 hours. Different sources of skim, or whey can vary enormously in feed value depending on how they were produced and how much was 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. 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 pwder for dairy heifers
The benefits of doing calve 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 (ADG) 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.
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?
Our view is that whilst the best products are twice the price of some budget products, you largely get what you pay for. Higher quality products can be fed at higher rates earlier without causing nutritional scour. Thus higher live weight gains can be achieved.
The better products give better results and can often be cheaper to use due to faster growth rates, lower mortality, lower vet bills, earlier weaning, lower powder usage per calf and higher lifetime yields.
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.
Equally there is no question that dairy heifer replacement 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.
Feeding top quality milk replacer is often costs less overall
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 the cheapest but which give exceptional results and which are extremely cost effective.
Shine Calf Milk Range
Shine calf milk replacers have been extremely successful both in the UK and Ireland operating at the quality end of the market. Shine products are made with a wide range of milk ingredients including butter milk and skim milk powder. They also use whey protein concentrate (wpc), concentrated milk lactoserum and whey. All ingredients are carefully dried to ensure easy mixing, maximum protein digestibility and uniformity. Shine milk replacers also contain yogurt powder, polyclonal antibodies and inactive yeast as MOS and are acidified.
Download the Shine Range Leaflet
SHINE the only milk replacer
to look after their long-term health
and your long-term wealth
Shine Once a Day calf milk powder
This is the 'Rolls Royce' of calf milk replacers and does not contain any vegetable proteins. It can be fed twice a day if you prefer and will give supreme performance in all situations. Ideal for rearing replacement heifers or where better than average performance is required.
The pioneer of once a day feeding and with butter and skim milk powder, it can be fed with water or milk to reduce your work-load but not compromise the calf.
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 60gms - 100gms of powder made up to 1 litre with cows milk. 3 litres 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.
There’s plenty of research around that shows that calves can be fed successfully on once-a-day feeding systems. Once-a-Day feeding involves significantly less labour, uses less calf milk replacer and promotes earlier weaning, but to secure the cost savings from once-a-day systems.
Provided you use the right calf milk replacer formulation, once-a-day feeding will be more cost-effective for many UK calf rearers. 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.
This milk powder has been shown to give live weight gains up to 12% higher than feeding twice daily whole milk in most cases, and will reduce your work load by up to 40%. It contains 35% Skim + Butter oil and is designed for mixing with water or with whole milk for once a day feeding.
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.
Calves do extremely well on this product and generally are less prone to digestive upsets. Milk replacers that claim to contain milk, but make no reference to skim milk powder or buttermilk are unsuitable for once-a-day feeding from an early age because they contain no casein protein. These products are usually based on whey and vegetable proteins and are flushed through the calf’s digestive system in only a few hours.
By incorporating vegetable oils, along with the natural milk emulsifiers found in buttermilk, rather than by pushing up fat levels fat digestion digestion is improved and dry feed intake is increased. Due to the extremely high quality and digestibility of this product calves can be started on 3 litres fed Once-a-Day at a week old. This would not be possible with lower quality replacers or with whole milk.
Milk solids need to be at 20% making whole milk unsuitable for Once-a-Day feeding unless calf milk replacer is added to the whole milk to increase the solids content of the feed. In reality it makes no economic sense on most farms to feed whole milk to calves, but where necessary cows milk can be incorporated into the system using a combination of milk and replacer.
With the right milk replacer, a once-a-day feeding system works fantastically 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, saving the farmer even more time, as well as cutting the amount of milk replacer used. Most importantly calves actually do better.
Shine Compumate is designed specifically for computerised machine fed calves. Compumate contains anti bacterial agents such as Lactoperoxidase, Lactoferrin and organic acids to ensure disease levels are minimised especially around the teat and feed station. Compumate contains high levels of Vitamin C, E and organic selenium to increase calf immunity.
Bucket fed calves tend to be mixed in small groups of a similar age. Computerised machine fed calves are penned in large groups of differing ages all drinking from the same teat several times a day, which encourages disease to multiply. Calves with weak immune systems increase the disease pressure on all other calves.
Compumate is a very high specification product. The additional cost of Compumate compared with standard whey based calf powders such as Shine Extra can easily be justified by improved performance and healthier calves especially on replacement dairy heifers where we are looking early calving and high lifetime performance in order to reduce stocking levels, working capital, interest charges and overall replacement costs per litre.
Download the Compumate Leaflet
SHINE Compumate the only powder designed for computerised machine fed calves
Shine Calf Milk Replacer
Shine is a high quality product containing skim and buttermilk powders. Recommended for twice a day and machine feeding where above average performance is required. Designed for maximising growth with high index calves. Calves can be pushed to ensure high performance from day one. This milk powder will more than compete with whole milk. Many people claim that the performance of calves on this milk is equivalent to that of calves fed on a full skim based powder, but at a reduced cost.
Shine Complete is an ideal choice for calf rearers to ensure maximum intakes of dry feed, high weaning weights and minimum problems- ideally suited to twice a day feed or through machines. 50% of protein from milk sources including buttermilk and whey but no skim. Shine Complete contains both Whey and Buttermilk.
SHINE the leading range of milk replacers currently available in the UK
Check out Shine Calf Milk Replacer feedback from farmers - Testimonials
Kalvolac Calf Milk Replacers
For several years RWN supplied Kalvolac Unique which is the best calf powder that we have seen. Customers consistently reported that Kalvolac Unique produced increased growth rates and healthier calves than other calf milk replacers. Kalvolac Unique is no longer available in the UK. However we now have available a range of very high quality calf milk replacers from the same manufacturer. As well as being of extremely high quality this range is very competitively priced.
Elite Calf Milk Replacer is formulated using skimmed milk powder to give calves a good bloom. Elite is particularly appropriate for calves being marketed between at 2 - 5 weeks of age. Elite is a superb product for use in both twice day bucket feeding systems and in computerised feeding systems.
Elite also 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 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 whey based powder designed for optimum growth rates. Premium Plus can be fed to all classes of calves and is highly recommended for both bucket rearing and for computerised feeding systems.
Independent trials have demonstrated higher growth rates to 12 weeks with significantly decreased costs than with skim based milk powders.
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, very economical and very effective. We can supply stainless steel mechanical mixers on wheels which takes much of the work out of mixing milk powder and feeding calves.
Gold Start Calf Milk Replacer is a very economical yet effective calf powder designed for bucket feeding to dairy heifers.
Feeding Milk Replacer to Calves is Much Easier with a Calf Milk Mixing Machine
For more information or for an in depth consultation contact Richard Webster.
Feeding Calves, Once A Day with Calf Milk Replacer offers clear advantages over feeding twice a day with waste whole milk from the dairy herd