Calf nutrition

What is the best milk powder for calves?

14-12-2020

The huge range of milk powders available on the market makes life difficult for dairy farmers when it comes to choosing. Which is best? Sjaak de Kleijne, young stock specialist at Agrifirm in The Netherlands turned the question around: which milk type best suits your farm? He suggested that the rearing targets are decisive when it comes to choosing a milk powder.

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Johan Verdaasdonk, young stock specialist at FrieslandCampina in The Netherlands has noticed that more and more farmers are opting for a more expensive powder with higher quality ingredients. “The number of young cattle on a dairy farm is minimal, so any dropout should be avoided. Farmers also have no time to deal with problems.”

Whey-based, caseinate-based or low-fat milk powder?

Sjaak comments are based on the characteristics of the various ingredients in powdered milk. “Raw milk supplies sufficient feed for around 6 hours; milk replacer with skimmed milk powder remains in the digestive system for around 5 hours, and powdered milk based on caseinate around 3 hours.” Whey-based powdered milk passes through the calf even more quickly. “It leaves the digestive system within around ninety minutes. If you feed your calves powdered milk based on whey powder twice a day, then you are selling them short. They must be given access to feed all day, for example in the form of Kalvolac Unlimited.” For Sjaak, the combination of whey and caseinate is the ideal choice. “It delivers quickly available energy to the calf and supplies a form of feed that still provides a feeling of satiation after three hours.”

Growth, health or cost price?

Ger, also young stock specialist at FrieslandCampina in The Netherlands, opted for a series of valuable questions to review the choices for milk powder. “Are you aiming for maximum growth and health? Then you should opt for the more luxury products which are high in dairy,  based on skimmed milk powder or with extra additives such as CAIR and lactoferrin.” For dairy farmers whose choice is based on costs: “whey based milk powders, low in dairy protein are somewhat cheaper.”

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