It is no small feat to deliver milk or milk replacer at calf body temperature during the dead of winter.

Your primary goal is to deliver whole milk or milk replacer at 105˚ F so that calves do not have to warm it back up to body temperature. To help you accomplish this, try these tips from the William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute in Chazy, N.Y.:

  • When mixing milk replacer, make sure that the water is at the proper temperature according to label directions.
  • Use a fast and accurate thermometer to evaluate the temperature of the liquid when mixing and as the milk replacer is delivered to the calf.
  • Mix up small batches (five or six calves at a time) so there is less time for the milk replacer to cool down before it is fed to calves.
  • In extremely cold temperatures, mix the milk replacer with a portion of the total water needed, according to the temperature on the label directions. Add the rest of the water needed for that batch at a higher temperature so that by the time it gets to the calf it is at 105° F.
  • Keep your mixing-to-feeding times consistent to achieve the goal of delivering the liquid at 105° F. 

“A 30-gallon barrel of 120° F milk replacer exposed to low temperatures and high winds can chill to 40° F in 30 minutes,” says Sarah Morrison, research intern at the Miner Institute. “With that in mind you want to find the amount of time it takes the milk replacer to drop to 105° F, and that would be the amount of time you have to get the milk to the calves.” 

For more information, read Keep your calves growing and healthy this winter.