Reason to Choose a High Quality Milk Replacer over whole Milk
The fundamental goal of calf rearing is to keep mortality rates as low as possible and produce a healthy calf at weaning. This can be achieved by keeping them free from disease and enhancing their immune systems, thus setting a base for continued high performance.
These are all the reasons that it makes sense feed calves on a high quality milk replacer. The best milk replacers are those that are not only palatable – but are easily digested to encourage development of favourable gut flora and minimise digestive disturbances.
Feeding whole milk, which has a high fat content is shown to delay rumen development leading to post-weaning growth depression.
Quality milk replacers are consistent in their composition, reducing the risk of nutritional scour compared to whole milk, which can vary greatly with time of milking, lactation stage, diet and health status.
Diseases which can be transmitted via whole milk include, Johnes, Salmonella, Mycoplasma, E-coli, Staphylococci and BVD. While milk replacers hold a strong argument for their inclusion in calf rearing, though it is important to note that some poor quality products do exist and farmers should be aware of what to look out for.
Poor quality milk replacers are often a dusty pale off white colour, low in Vitamin E, contain no added amino acids and very often need mixing with hot water.