About Calf Milk Replacers

Advantages of using Milk Replacers

  • Lower risk of disease: Feeding milk replacers prevents the transfer of diseases from cow to calf e.g. Johnes Risk
  • Easier to digest: The ingredients and composition are specially designed with the digestive system of the calf in mind. Milk replacers have more balanced fat than whole milk, and the fat is encased in protein with added vitamins and acids.
  • More nutritional: The powder is highly soluble in water allowing the calf to take in all ingredients to get the most nutritional value from the milk.
  • Consistency of product: when mixed correctly – less risk of digestive upsets and scours
  • Earlier weaning: High consumption of concentrates produces faster growth rates, resulting in the rumen developing faster to enable earlier weaning.
  • Guaranteed quality: Milk replacers always have stable quality and are rigorously tested through quality systems and certifications.
  • Easy to mix and feed
  • Covers milk contract condition- no antibiotic waste milk to be fed to calves
  • Meets farm assurance scheme.

Milk replacer should contain 20–26% crude protein and >16% fat to achieve optimal growth rate in early life.


Protein is necessary for tissue growth. Protein sources in milk replacer can be milk based (eg dried skimmed milk, dried whey, delactosed whey, caesin), egg based or plant based (eg soya, wheat gluten, pea).

Calves are better able to digest powders with milk-based proteins, particularly those less than three weeks of age.

Skim and Whey Milk Proteins

Skim milk-based powders are, typically, around 80% casein and 20% whey, the casein forms a clot in the abomasum and is digested like whole milk.

Whey-based powders are digested in the small intestine and do not form a clot in the abomasum due to the absence of casein.

Oil and Fat

Oil / Fat gives the calves energy. Generally, vegetable fats (palm oil, coconut or soybean) have similar digestibility to milk fat in calves over two weeks old.


Ash indicates the overall level of minerals. The ash content should not be higher than 8%.


Fibre is an indicator of protein quality, and the ingredient list should be viewed to determine the protein sources.

  • Products with less than 0.15% fibre contain milk or egg
  • Fibre levels over 0.20% indicate inclusion of plant proteins
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