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
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.
We have available a range of very high quality calf milk replacers which customers consistently report produce increased growth rates and healthier calves than other calf milk replacers.
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. 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.
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.
Calf Supplements and Equipment:
Biocell lac encourages early rumen development, allowing higher levels of concentrates to be introduced sooner. Trials show that intakes of calf coarse mix can increase by up to 25% in the weaning period and live-weight gains are greatly increased.
Biocell lac increases the number and activity of specific beneficial bacteria and competes with pathogenic organisms for adhesion sites on the intestinal wall. Metabolism is enhanced, toxins are neutralised and nutrients better absorbed.
Biocell lac reduces digestive problems by preventing the growth of pathogens. Certain pathogens bind to the yeast cell surface and are rapidly excreted from the gut. Specific metabolites produced by the live yeast neutralise the effects of toxins.
Benefits of Biocell lac:
- Increased dry feed Intakes
- Improved feed efficiency and livewight gain
- Fewer digestive upsets and reduced mortality
- Increased weaning weight
We have been very impressed with this product. We have seen calf units experiencing health and performance issues, scours, digestive upsets, bloat, poor growth and high mortality, which have introduced Biocell lac and the problems have simply gone away. Calves have thrived with Biocell lac.
Problems with calves simply went away after introducing Biocell lac
Crypt-Occur for calves. In conjunction with good hygiene, good colostrum management and regular disinfecting for calves, look to use Crypt-Occur®.
Crypt-Occur® is a carefully formulated synergistic blend of ingredients designed to support the gut, immune system and intestinal microflora of calves. Esterified butyrins and plant extracts maintain the barrier effect of the gut wall through their positive effects on the tight junctions and mucus production.
Maintaining the immune system with egg products (dried), yeast components, fatty acids, prebiotics and probiotics to maintain the gut microflora.
Download the Crypt-Occur for Calves Leaflet.
Crypt-Occur® is a formidable product for use with calves
RespoSan Breathe Easy helps with respiratory issues in calves. RespoSan Breathe easy contains vitamins, electrolytes, essential oils and herbal extracts carefully selected especially for this purpose.
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.
For more information about RWN Calf Milk Replacers or to place an order contact Richard Webster.