Calf nutrition

Powdered milk or full milk?


According to the well-founded arguments of various experts, the best way to ensure successful calf rearing is to switch to powdered milk after two days of colostrum.

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The reasons?

Because with powdered milk you deliver the best stimulus to take up roughage, because the quality of powdered milk is always constant and because it contains fewer pathogens such as Salmonella, Uberis, Para and Mycoplasma. And also because powdered milk contains the optimum amount of various forms of easily digestible fats. In other words, better for the calf, all round.

Sjaak de Kleijne, young cattle specialist at Agrifirm, indicated that full milk contains far more fat and energy. “That reduces the desire of calves to take up roughage, despite the objective of rearing the calf as a roughage eater. With that in mind, you should encourage calves to take up roughage as quickly as possible, in order to activate the rumen.” In terms of costs, powdered milk is also competitive, explained Ger van Wersch, young cattle specialist at FrieslandCampina. “The cost price for powdered milk in The Netherlands is between 29 and 33 cents per litre.

Brix value of powdered milk

Sjaak explained that using a Brix/refractometer, you can measure the quality of colostrum, but also of powdered milk and full milk. The target Brix value for colostrum is 23 or more. For powdered milk containing 150 g of milk powder per litre, the Brix value is 15, which in fact represents 15% dry matter. “The score for full milk is around 13. Yet another indicator that proportionally, full milk contains more water than powdered milk.”

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