PROFITABLE CALF REARING – Fortify cows milk with a CMR

Article supplied by Dr B.W. Schouten, BVSc
Veterinary Consultant to AgriVantage

Fortify cows milk with CMR

How to fortify cows’ milk with a CMR

Fortifying whole milk with calf milk replacer (CMR) is a great way to extend your colostrum and transition milk supplies, without taking milk from the vat.

Fortifying whole milk has the following advantages:

  • Increasing vitamin and mineral content of the ration.

  • Allows reduction of volume of milk fed - because the milk is more concentrated.

  • Colostrum/transition milk can be used more efficiently over the whole calf rearing season.

Here’s a guide to help you work out how to fortify cows’ milk with a CMR.

As a rule, do not fortify cows’ milk with more then 50% of a whey-based powder (like Sprayfo milk replacer) as it may interfere with curding.

The easiest way to work it out is to convert all the milk products to a powder equivalent basis:

Cows’ milk contains 125g of powder/L

Next, ask what is the total amount of milk or its equivalent that you want to feed? In other words, how much energy do you want to offer the calf on a daily basis?

Eg. If you want to offer the calf 5L milk/day the amount of powder equivalent would be:

5 x 125g = 625g/day

If you want to feed just 3L of cows’ milk (i.e. 375g of powder) you will need to add 250g of CMR powder to meet the energy demand of 625g/day.

How to mix milk and CMR?

There are 3 options:

  1. Mix CMR at the usual rate of 125g/L and make up 2L. Add the 2L CMR to the 3L of cows’ milk to make 5L.
  2. Mix the 250g of powder with 1L hot water and add to the 3L of cows’ milk. The new feeding level is 4L in total.
  3. Introduce the 250g CMR powder directly into the cows’ milk and mix it well. The new feeding level will be 3.250L in total.

Any of the above 3 options will work. However, I prefer option 2 for the following reasons:

  • Mixing CMR with hot water (not more than 60ºC) will make mixing easy. Plus, the heated mix will help to lift the cold cows’ milk somewhat above the ambient temperature which is good for digestion.
  • The resultant reduction of the total milk volume now offered is suitable for a “once a day” feeding system.

Option 3 is also good for a “once a day” feeding systems.

  • Care should be taken to ensure that ALL calves are drinking evenly, there are plenty of teats and that teats are not blocked.
  • The resultant reduced volume of “milk” will encourage the intake of concentrate and so enhance rumenal development.

These calculations can easily be modified to any combination of milk and CMR and to any feeding level.

Or, use the 8:4:1 formula

i.e 8L of milk: 4L hot water:1kg milk powder

In practical terms, to make 100L, add:

60L MILK + 30L WATER (HOT) + 7.5kg CMR (about 1/3 bag)

This will give a final concentration of 150g/L

At a feeding rate of 4L/day, this mix will feed 25 calves for 1 day.

Fortify milk with Sprayfo Red Finisher CMR (the 8:4:1 way)