Mix it Right!
Jan 17, 2022
Tara Jo Ellerman Countryside Feed Nutritionist
Young animals not nursing their mothers are dependent on milk replacer to provide the nutrition they need to survive and thrive. One of the most common milk replacer mistakes I see is improper preparation, which can lead to many problems. Lets review some best practices for mixing milk replacer:
Read the Lable
Most milk replacers provide basic, easy to follow instructions for properly mixing milk replacers on the label. It is important to read this information because different products may vary in mixing recommendations.
Consistently mixing the proper amount of milk solids is very important. Mixing milk replacer too "strong" (17 - 18% solids) can lead to scours, while mixing too "weak" (under 10% solids) will not provide calves with the energy, protein, and other nutrients for them to grow and develop properly. I recommend weighing milk replacer powder with a scale to make sure you are getting the consistency calves need to thrive. Many products offer a cup in bags of milk replacer. These can be useful tools, but can also lead to inconsistency in milk solids day to day. Density of milk replacer will be different between products, and even in the same product over time. If you use the included cup, weigh milk replacer powder routinely and make a "fill line" instead of using the pre-marked lines.
Add about half of the warm water required for the milk you are mixing, add powder, mix until all powder is dissolved, add warm water until you reach your desired total volume of milk replacer, and mix again. If you are mixing for several calves, batch mixing can help maintain consistency in the final milk replacer.
Dissolving all solids in the final solution of milk replacer makes sure everything is fully suspended in solution. One importatnt factor in mixing milk replacer is the water temperature. Fats used in milk replacer typically melt at 95 - 115°F, once this happens a consistent suspension is created. For this reason, most milk replacers should be mixed between 110° - 120°F to fully dissolve all the powder efficiently.
Once milk replacer is mixed, consistency in feeding is also very importatnt. Feeding time, quantity, and temperature should be as consistent as possible from day to day. Always feed young animals milk that is between 101° - 105°F. Using a thermometer is the only effective way to guarantee a proper feeding temperature.
For more information about mixing and feeding milk replacer, contact your Countryside Feed representative.