How Much Milk Replacer to Wean a Calf

The Veterinarian (vet) recommended quantity of the calf milk powder is one quart, fed thrice a day for the first two weeks after birth. Then, you can use two quarts and reduce the feeding to twice a day till the 10th week. You have to ensure 4:1 (water feeding: calf milk powder) every day. This method ensures maximum digestibility and absorption rate within the rumen (part of calf intestine). Also, you need to care about mixing the calf milk powder with water while preparing the milk replacer. You can find the brief explanation of the steps here.


Calf Milk Powder – Preparation Method

• Importance of Colostrum Feed (1-3 days): You need to ensure the feeding of Colostrum from the day one to day 3 of birth. The other feed is only water. You don’t need to have any constraints on the volume of Colostrum consumed by the calf or the frequency. The calf develops healthy body weight and immunity levels during the first 3 days.

• Mixing Ratio (From 4th day):  Let us assume you wish to prepare the 125 grams of calf milk powder for feeding your calves. You can either use a measuring jar or weighing scale to take the exact quantity. The water mixing proportion is 1 liter of hot water (at 380C to 450C temperature). You can use this ratio of 0.125:1 (125gms in one liter of water) from the fourth day after birth till the 10th week. You may increase the calf milk powder quantity during this period, but the recommended ratio may remain the same. However, your vet may suggest a different ratio depending on the health and physical conditions of your calf. Some of the vets may recommend 0.2:1 (200gms in one liter of water) after the fourth week. It is better to use a temperature measuring gauge to ensure the heat levels don’t exceed or go below the recommended range.

• Mixing Tool: You may opt for a hand whisk (wired) or a whipping tool, when the quantity is relatively lower (<18 liters (5 gallons)). You may use the mixer machines when the quantity increases. You need to check for the suspended particulates and lumps. The particulates get dissolved eventually, but the lumps don’t. Then you need to filter out them and feed the completely dissolved Calf Milk Powder liquid. 

• Feed Frequency: The ratio between volume /single feed and number of feeds depends on the vet recommendations. The specific brand manufacturers may also have their own formula, which is based on the prescriptions given by their vet experts. The generally recommended number of feeds/day is 3, 2, and 1. One time feed may start from week 7 and continue till week 10. The volume/feed may increase, remain constant or decrease according to the vet prescriptions. 

Calf Milk Powder – Ingredients and Benefits

The key ingredients of the Calf Milk Powder are proteins, vitamins (hay and others), fat, fiber, Lecithin, Manganese Sulfate, s, Silicon Dioxide, and the supplements of calcium, Niacin, vitamin B12, vitamin A etc. Every ingredient has its own benefits. You can learn about some of the most common ones here. It may be possible to create the unique Calf Milk Powder based on DIY procedures. But they may lack consistency in concentration of ingredients, quality, preparation methods etc.

• Proteins: The proteins in the Calf Milk Powder mainly come from different forms soy, hay, casein, skimmed milk, delactosed whey etc. The concentration levels vary between different branded products.

• Fat: The fat content is generally in the raw form. When the Calf Milk Powder liquid enters the calf rumen, it breaks the fat into soluble fatty acids. They in turn act as catalysts for the digestion and absorption of other ingredients.   

• Minerals: Minerals and their derivatives (listed above) are useful in enhancing the calf growth factors. You need to consult the vet before choosing the Calf Milk Powder with mineral ingredients. If the concentration is less than the requirement (based on the present health and physical condition of the cow), it may result in malnourishment and undergrowth. If the mineral concentrations are in excess, they may result in side effects. Hence, you need to follow the vet prescriptions accurately to ensure the desired results.

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