Variation in nutrient content and bacteria counts in pasteurized whole milk fed to dairy calves might be more than expected.
Many farms have a readily available supply of waste milk and want to feed it to their dairy calves. But even if you pasteurize your waste milk, it isn’t providing consistent nutrition.
Calf Nutrition Variation
The solids levels and protein and fat percentage in your pasteurized whole milk can change day to day and even from feeding to feeding.
Variations in total solids, fat and protein percentages occur when milk is mixed from cows in different lactation stages and health statuses. Research showed total solids in pasteurized whole milk can vary as much as 6.58 percent on individual farms with protein variation of 7.9 percent and fat variation of 17.3 percent1
(see Table 1).
This high level of variation makes it challenging to provide a consistent, nutritious diet to dairy calves. And dairy calves love consistency!
Growing concern about antibiotics in whole milk also has given some dairy farmers pause when deciding whether to feed pasteurized whole milk. Of the samples in this study, 56.8 percent contained traces of antibiotics. There are many factors that may impact antibiotic resistance in dairy calves. However, research showed an increase in antibiotic resistance in calves fed pasteurized waste milk compared to calves fed milk replacer.2
Pasteurizing waste milk is essential to reducing bacteria. But, even with pasteurization, high bacteria counts can still be a concern. You can’t always rely on your on-farm pasteurizer to effectively kill 100 percent of bacteria.
In fact, more than 40 percent of pasteurizers in this study failed to kill the necessary amount of bacteria when tested immediately after pasteurizing (see Table 2). Samples tested at the last calf fed showed there were even more bacteria present at the end of the feeding.1
Exposing dairy calves to milk with a high pathogen load can increase incidences of sickness, leading to lower performance and even mortality. Proper management of milk, pasteurizers and feeding equipment, along with supplementing with a pasteurized milk balancer or feeding milk replacer to younger calves can help reduce bacteria and improve calf nutrition.
Learn how LAND O LAKES® Pasteurized Milk Balancer®
can help fill the gaps in you calf nutrition.
1 Yoho, W.S. et al. T 132 Variation of nutrient content and bacteria count of pasteurized waste milk fed to dairy calves. 2017.
2 Maynou, G., Bach, A., Terré, M., Feeding of waste milk to Holstein calves affects antimicrobial resistance of Escherichia coli and Pasteurella multocida isolated from fecal and nasal swabs. 2017.