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
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
“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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