Properly pasteurized waste milk can be a great source of nutrition for young calves. However, there can be great variability in the nutritional profile of pasteurized waste milk, not to mention fluctuations in the supply available.

Results from a national study of 252 farms show just how dramatic the variability in solids, protein and fat content can be:

 

Low

High

Salable bulk-tank milk

Solids

9.0 percent

18 percent

12.5 percent

Protein

2.2 percent

6.0 percent

3.0 percent

Fat

1.8 percent

9.5 percent

3.6 percent

In addition to the inconsistency in solids, protein and fat, waste milk can invariably lack crucial vitamins and minerals that calves require. (Figure 2). Consider that whole milk is deficient in vitamins D3 and E, all seven essential trace minerals, and in five of eight essential B vitamins.

There are several factors that can contribute to this nutrient variability, says Dr. Tom Earleywine, director of nutritional services for Land O’Lakes Animal Milk Products. These can include:

  • Source: Waste milk is often a combination of transition milk from recently fresh cows and milk from treated cows. The nutritive composition of waste milk can vary greatly depending on the ratio of transition cows to sick cows.
  • Inconsistent handling: This includes not agitating the waste milk as frequently or thoroughly as salable bulk-tank milk.
  • Human error: No one’s perfect. On occasion, wash water can enter the waste milk supply.

About 50 percent of a dairy cow’s frame growth occurs during her first six months of life, so when consistency is lacking in the milk-feeding phase, you can’t ignore it.

A good solution for reducing the peaks and valleys – and supply challenges – associated with feeding waste milk is to add a milk balancer to pasteurized waste milk, says Earleywine. A balancer normalizes nutrient levels in pasteurized waste milk. It contains a level of protein similar to milk and a low level of fat, which helps to encourage calf starter intake. It also is fortified with vitamins and minerals to support calf health and growth. As an added benefit, it can contain a feed-through fly-control larvicide, as well as Bovatec to control coccidiosis.

Research shows adding a pasteurized milk balancer to the milk diet can improve calf performance. A field trial conducted on an Arizona calf ranch found that calves fed a milk ration enhanced with pasteurized milk balancer gained 17 percent more from birth to weaning compared to calves fed just pasteurized waste milk. The fortified group also had an 8 percent improvement in hip height, 7 percent longer body length and 35 percent larger heart girth.

A pasteurized milk balancer also can be used with added water to extend waste milk supplies instead of using saleable milk to reach the quantities needed to feed. This can make a substantial impact on profitability.

A proper diet equals healthy, well-grown calves. Ensure consistency in the diets of calves fed pasteurized waste milk.

For more information on balancing pasteurized milk, visit lolmilkreplacer.com or call 800-618-6455.

Figure 2: Nutrient shortages in milk

Data collected by Wood 2013, shows that a whole milk does not meet basic vitamin and trace mineral requirements of a calf. Whole milk is deficient in vitamins D3 and E, all seven essential trace minerals, and in five of eight essential B vitamins. Vitamin and trace mineral levels as reported by the USDA and calf requirements as reported in the 2001 NRC for dairy cattle.