Ann Hoskins, calf products coordinator for Vita Plus Corporation, answers a dairy producer’s question regarding the merits of fortifying pasteurized waste milk:

Q:  We pasteurize our waste milk from treated and high-somatic-cell-count cows.  I was wondering if milk replacer has a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals compared to pasteurized milk.  If feeding pasteurized milk, do we need to fortify the milk with added vitamins and minerals for the first few weeks of life until they start eating grain regularly?

A:  You are absolutely correct that milk replacer is fortified with vitamins and minerals.  Milk is naturally low in some vitamins and minerals essential to calves.  That means that, until the calf starts eating grain regularly, it is deprived of these nutrients. 

Research shows that fortifying waste milk with vitamins and minerals will help support health and weight gain.  I work with many dairies that add a vitamin pack post- pasteurization.  Many use it for the entire time the calf is on milk as it is easier to mix into the load and feed.  If you have the option of feeding a small number of animals, I would recommend adding the vitamin pack for the first three weeks or until the calves are eating grain regularly.

Hoskins cites information in an article by Dave Wood, director of technical services and sales for Animix, LLC, that explains the vitamin requirements for a dairy calf.  Among the points he makes are:

  • By USDA/2001 NRC standards for calf requirements, whole milk is deficient in vitamins D3 and E; six of seven essential trace minerals; and six of eight essential B vitamins.
  • Those standards are set as minimum requirements of a healthy calf gaining just two-thirds of a pound daily.
  • Micronutrient requirements are even higher when calves are sick, and when they are growing at their full genetic potential.
  • Starter grain intake fails to meet basic micro-nutrient requirements until calves are at least four weeks of age. 

Read the full text of Wood’s article here.

Source: Starting Strong newsletter by Vita Plus Corp, December 2013