Increased demand for dry whey used in sports drinks and other human foods, has driven up the price of calf milk replacer. Therefore, Tracey Erickson, South Dakota State University Extension Dairy Field Specialist said proper storage practices are even more essential.
"This retains its quality until it is used," Erickson explained.
As the seasons change, so does humidity and temperature. Milk replacer stored in areas without controlled temperature and humidity may absorb moisture causing condensation and clumps in the product. Erickson explained that these clumps can cause numerous problems such as increased spoilage, fat oxidation (impacting the smell and taste of the milk replacer), it also creates difficulty in handling the product when measuring, mixing, and reconstituting it.
Best storage suggestions for milk replacer
To maintain product quality, the product should be stored in an area that is between 41 degrees Fahrenheit to 68 degrees Fahrenheit and equal to or less than 60 percent humidity.
A walk-in cooler would work well to store this valuable product. To maximize its freshness Erickson suggests that the milk replacer stock be rotated by following the rule of "first in, first out."
The average recommended shelf life of milk replacers is approximately six months under ideal storage conditions, according to Erickson. Other storage considerations to maximize shelf life include:
- Keep replacer away from high humidity places such as your water source or sink/mixing area.
- Do not store in the calf barns as calves generate heat & moisture.
- It is essential to minimize its exposure to pests such as mice, rats, cats, birds, etc. Close any opened bag when you are not using it.
- Using an air tight container such as a tote to store opened bags in-between uses helps minimize exposure to humidity and pests.
- Reduce product compaction by not piling more than two pallets high.
- Erickson added that all bags should be inspected before use for color and smell. Ideally milk replacer is a light tan color having a pleasant bland odor. However if the powder has a brownish-orange color and a caramelized smell it may have undergone the Maillard Browning reaction (non-enzymatic browning).
She explained that this reaction occurs due to excessive heat exposure during product storage. As a result, product quality and palatability is reduced.
"If the color is fine but there is an off-smell, such as paint, grass, clay or gasoline, the fat in the product may have become rancid," Erickson said.