Variation in the amount of milk replacer powder and water levels used to mix the powder leads to inconsistency in the diet. The temperature of the liquid diet fed to calves is another source of variation that can affect the nutrient content of the diet and hurt pre-weaned calf performance.

“Consistency can be improved by following some simple protocols,” says Bob James, extension dairy scientist at Virginia Tech. Here are two simple practices to improve consistency:

• Use scales to weigh water and powder. To achieve 12.5 percent solids, for example, add 1.25 pounds of powder to 8.75 pounds of water.
• Use a battery-operated thermometer to measure the temperature of the liquid.

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