Calf milk replacers (CMRs) are typically formulated from a range of lower-value milk products and may have reduced curding ability when casein proteins are absent or denatured. Whilst there are industry claims that vealer calves in Europe can be reared on such CMRs, there is no NZ data to substantiate these claims. In Experiment One, 240 calves were reared on three milk replacers. Diet A was a curding CMR based on whole-milk powder and skim-milk powder. Diet B was a non-curding CMR based on whey and vegetable fat. Diet C was a non-curding CMR based on whey, soy and vegetable fat. A salmonella challenge occurred in the rearing facility during the first two weeks of rearing. Calves on Diet A suffered a much lower incidence of sickness than those on Diets B and C (15% vs 34% vs 61%) respectively. Mortality was also lower (1.25% vs 5% vs 5% respectively). In Experiment Two, 90 calves were fed on the same diets from four days to 13 weeks of age. There were no effects of diet on disease or mortality. Calves on Diet A, B and C had growth rates to 13 weeks of 0.63, 0.60 and 0.53 kg/day, respectively. In conclusion, rearers need to be aware that there a risk when feeding non-curding milk replacers to young calves, particularly when timely weight targets need to be achieved.
New Zealand Journal of Animal Science and Production, Volume 78, Lincoln, 157-160, 2018
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