Milk replacer and non-salable milk short, long-term effects

Research shows it is best to pasteurize waste milk, especially when fed to low birth weight calves.

Al Kertz, PhD, DIPL ACAN
ANDHIL LLC

The 2014 NAHMS data found that about 59% of US dairy operations feed some milk replacer while only 5% of smaller but 44% of large operations feed some nonsalable milk.   These percentages are a bit confounded because most operations feed more than one category of liquid to their calves.  While feeding waste/mastitic milk to young calves may be the least defensible biosecurity practice on a dairy from a public perception, the reality is that this is done frequently because in a sense the milk is “free” and available.  Once when I was visiting a large southeast US dairy, I noticed posted on his office white board weekly numbers which included quite low somatic cell count (SCC) numbers for the herd.  I commented that must mean low hospital or waste milk to feed his calves.  He looked me straight in the eyes and said ”Yes, and I do not want that to change!”  In other words, he wanted less waste milk, so he had to buy milk replacer to feed his calves.  But few seem to look at it that way.

I have discussed this subject several times before (Kertz 2002, 2006a) and there are some studies and reports evaluating this practice (Ashworth et al., 1967; Foley and Otterby 1978: Jamaluddin et al., 1996; Kessler 1981; Selim and Cullor 1997). Pasteurization or heat treatment of colostrum (Kertz 2006b) has been evaluated for efficacy by Sandra Godden and colleagues at the University of Minnesota (Godden et al., 2006; McMartin et al., 2006; and Stewart et al., 2005).

Given this background, Garcia et al. (2021) evaluated feeding to calves 3 different treatments after colostrum administration within 2 hours after birth.  All calves were from the Kansas State University herd.  Calves with a birth weight less than 80 lb were fed initially a catchup program before going on the same feeding program as all of the rest of the calves.  The 3 treatments were:  Milk Replacer (MR), Nonsalable milk (NSM) non pasteurized (same for colostrum), and Nonsaleable milk (NSM) pasteurized (same for colostrum).  All calves were fed 3 times daily at 0700, 1500, and 2300.  The MR had 28% protein and 18% fat on a dry matter basis, was mixed at 14.2 % solids, and was designed to provide the same metabolizable energy value as whole milk.   NSM post pasteurization averaged 4.14 % fat, 3.61 % protein, 13.1 % total solids, and 1,575 SCC/µL.  Calves were fed 2 quarts liquid per feeding until 42 days of age when they were then weaned after they were fed free choice and averaged 2 lb daily of a 18% protein textured starter for 3 consecutive days.  A total of 154 calves were used.  After weaning, calves were fed and managed the same through their first lactation.

 A study of this type and magnitude is not often done because from the time the last calf is born until it completes its first lactation is about 4 years.  Dependent on the herd size, the first             calf may have begun up to a year or more earlier.  That means the total time for the study may be 5 years.  Preparation time may have been a year earlier than that and summarization a year or more after the last calf finished the study.  That total to 7 or more years, which is much longer than a graduate student’s program.  So, kudos for this group to do this study!   

To detect significant statistical differences among treatments with much variation is difficult.  Nevertheless, data in the Table do provide some insights.

  • It is remarkable that 148 of 154 calves which started finished their first lactation.
  • About 20% of these calves were below the 80 lb birth weigh threshold.  Initial birth weight is a significant source of variation.
  • There were significant differences (P<0.05) in starter intake among types of milk liquid and between effects of pasteurization.
  • More calves/heifers per treatment would likely have fleshed out mor significant differences.

Table. Performance of heifers fed milk replacer low birth weight (MR-LBW), milk replacer normal birth weight (MR-NBW), pasteurized colostrum and waste milk low birth weight (Past-LBW), pasteurized colostrum and waste milk normal birth weight (Past-NBW), raw colostrum and waste milk low birth weight (Raw-LBW), and raw colostrum and waste milk normal birth weight (Raw-NBW).  MEq is mature equivalent corrected milk.

 

MR-LBW

MR-NBW

Past-LBW

Past-NBW

Raw-LBW

Raw-NBW

Birth to 42 days

 

 

 

 

 

 

  n =

     12

     35

        7

      43

      10

        41

  Birth weight, lb

71.5

87.8

69.7

88.4

73.3

88.4

  Daily gain, lb

    1.39

   1.43

   1.54

    1.39

    1.19

    1.45

  Hip height, inch +

    0.10

   0.10

   0.10

    0.10

    0.09

    0.10

  Starter intake, lb/day

   0.81

   0.75

   1.30

    0.88

    0.79

   0.95

Birth to 24 weeks

 

 

 

 

 

 

   n =

     12

     35

         7

       43

       10

       41

   Daily gain, lb

   1.76

   1.78

     1.83

      1.78

      1.65

     1.85

   Hip height, inch +

    0.09

   0.09

     0.10

      0.10

       0.08

      0.08

First pregnancy

 

 

 

 

 

 

   n =

     12

     34

         6

        38

          9

        38

   Services AI

   1.56

   1.79

     1.73

        2.10

        1.56

        1.92

First lactation

 

 

 

 

 

 

   n =

        12

       32

         6

       37

           9

       36

  Age 1st calving month

     22.3

   22.8

   22.6

  22.7

      22.4

   22.8

   MEq milk. lb

30,158

31,522

31,671

31,128

  28,750

32,503

   % fat

       3.91

       3.89

      3.89

      3.84

          3.80

     3.82

   % protein

       2.97

       2.92

     2.79

2.80

          2.96

    2.88

 

The Bottom Line

  Authors noted that low birth weight calves (<80 lb) fed unpasteurized colostrum and waste milk had reduced weight gain, starter intake, and feed efficiency prior to weaning.  Thus, it is best to pasteurize waste milk, especially when fed to low birth weight calves.

References

            Ashworth, U. S., T. L. Forster, and L. O. Luedecke.  1967.  Relationship between California Mastitis Test reaction and production and composition of milk from opposite quarters.  J. Dairy Sci.  50:1078-1082.

            Foley, J. A., and D. E. Otterby.  1978.  Availability, storage, treatment, composition, and feeding value of surplus colostrum:  a review.  J. Dairy Sci. 61:1033-1060.

            Garcia, M., S. R. Montgomery, S. J. Moisa, G. A. Hanzlicek, L. E. Hulbert, and B. J. Bradford.   2021.  Effects of milk feeding strategies on short- and long-term productivity of Holstein heifers.  J. Dairy Sci. 104:4303-4316.

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