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    Feeding Whole Milk to Calves can be Costly
20/04/07

Feeding what might seem to be surplus whole milk from the dairy herd to calves simply does not make financial or nutritional sense and may even expose youngstock to harmful bacteria that will cause disease.

Feeding whole milk can be risky for calf health

calf feeding

That’s the view of Jessica Miller from Trouw Nutrition, who says that quite apart from a compelling economic argument in favour of feeding milk powder, trials consistently show that calves reared on milk replacers also have a lower incidence of digestive upsets.

“Even with average annual milk prices dipping to around the 17p/litre mark, at an equivalent cost of 11-13p/litre milk replacers still look a sound financial investment – notwithstanding the accepted additional benefits milk powders deliver on nutritional and health grounds.

“Even when fresh, whole milk is a much more variable proposition and its temperature and delivery system can be far from ideal,” she explains. “And every time you feed waste milk – especially non sterilised milk – you run the risk of exposing your calves to a range of bacterial pathogens such as E.coli, salmonella, and Johne’s disease in particular.”

She also points out that any whole milk containing antibiotic residues should not be fed to calves.

“Apart from the fact that the antibiotic in waste milk is not licensed for use as a feedstuff, there is some evidence that feeding mastitic milk may induce greater susceptibility to certain mastitis organisms when the replacement heifer calf begins lactation. And waste milk should never be fed to calves destined for meat production due to the risk of antibiotic deposition in meat. Consequently, the practice should be avoided at all costs,” she says.

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