27 November 1998

Milk powder, fast growth

USING milk powder to rear calves from one to five-weeks-old and then feeding whole milk can produce good growth rates with little risk of scours and allow use of over quota milk.

According to Volac technical manager, Maggie Gould, using milk powders advantage of consistency over the highest risk period for scours, then changing to whole-milk once calves are stronger can produce high growth rates. Calves under a week old should receive colostrum or a colostrum/milk mix, she adds.

Trials by SAC show growth rates of 0.76kg a day from one to eight weeks for calves fed using this system. Calves weaned at five weeks on milk replacer and whole milk, and then fed concentrates, grew at 0.64 and 0.63kg a day, respectively, from one to eight weeks.

Few producers consider changing calves on to whole milk once on milk powder, she says. "But once calves guts are conditioned and stable they can be grouped and fed whole milk, almost ad lib, in troughs."

This makes them easy to manage and allows use of more whole milk without the high level of management needed for feeding whole milk to younger calves.

In the study, each calf drank 227 litres of whole milk from five to eight weeks old. &#42