The price of milk replacer has gone up recently and that may have you looking at milk replacers with alternative protein sources. Formulations that include non-milk proteins may cost less, but they also can reduce gain.

The chart below compares the performance of calves fed milk replacers with wheat protein or soy protein concentrate to calves fed all-milk protein. For instance, calves on the soy-protein milk replacer achieved 90 percent of the gain of calves fed an all-milk formulation, said Steve Hayes, technical service manager with Milk Products of Chilton, Wis.

The milk replacers were fed to calves during a 56-day trial at the University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center (SROC) in Waseca. All calves were fed a milk replacer at the rate of 1.25 pounds per calf per day reconstituted with water.

Hayes presented the data recently during a calf workshop at SROC.


Milk Replacer Treatment

All-milk protein

Wheat protein

Soy protein concentrate

Total gain (per calf)

96.8 pounds

88 pounds

86 pounds

Average daily gain

1.72 pounds

1.57 pounds

1.54 pounds

Gain-to-feed ratio




Source: Steve Hayes, Milk Products