Monday, February 3, 2014

Read the Tag?
Think of all the barriers to reading a milk replacer tag. Fine print - yes. Tag is covered with dust and dirt - yes. Left my glasses in the kitchen - yes. Motivation level low - yes. 
However, once in a while one can pick up new information. I have to admit that I, too, am negligent about reading the mixing instructions on these tags. Last week I pulled the tag off a bag of Land 'O Lakes Cows' Match Jersey Blend milk replacer.
I read this:
"5 Gallon Mix: While stirring mix 6.25 lbs. of milk powder into 110-120degree F water and bring final solution to 5 gallons. Mix thoroughly and feed immediately after mixing. Powder should be weighted for precision and best calf performance."
Clearly stated behavior - do this, do this and do this. If a gallon of this mix weighs 8.6 pounds this formula gives you a 14.5 percent solids solution. When fed at tag-recommended rates (2 quarts twice daily first week, 2.4 quarts twice daily weeks 2- 7,
2.4 quarts twice daily week 8) it should deliver on a daily basis:
Week one  =  1 1/4 pounds powder a day
Weeks 2-7 =  1 1/2 pounds powder a day
Week 8     =   3/4 pound powder a day
Individual Calf:  
"Week1: While stirring pour 10 oz. of milk replace powder into 110-120 degree F water. Mix thoroughly and feed resulting solution (2 quarts) twice daily." 

Did I miss something or did you see anything about the total amount of 110-120 water? Is it clear to you or  just implied that ones starts with less than 2 quarts so that when you get done mixing you end up with two quarts?
Regardless of my confusion the calf drinks whatever you mix she ends up with two 10 ounce feedings a day - that comes to 1 1/4 pounds just like when you batch mix milk replacer. 
"Week 2 through Week 7: While stirring pour 12 oz. of milk replacer powder in 110-120 degree F water. Mix thoroughly and feed resulting solution (2.4 quarts) twice daily."
I am guessing that in this case I started with 2 quarts of water, added 12 ounces of powder, and ended up with 2.4 quarts of mix.  These calves get two feedings so they end up with 24 ounces of powder, that is, 1 1/2 pounds.of powder daily.
Why my concern over these tag instructions?
In the real world of on-farm calf feeding we have two different individual mixing protocols, one for very young calves and another for calves 2-7 weeks of age.
I think that there is a good chance that the calf care person mixing for very young calves will begin using 2 quarts of water and 10 ounces of powder. That is, use the same volume of water regardless of the age of the calf.
If the very young calf twice daily drinks all 2.4 quarts of this mix no problem. But if only 2 quarts are fed each feeding then the calf consumes about 8 ounces of powder per feeding - not the intended 10 ounces.

Alternatively (what I observed on one farm), the calf care person used the same amount of powder regardless of the calf's age. That is, for the very young calf they dump in a full cup (12 ounces) of powder into water, mix and add enough water to make 2 quarts. This mix will come out about 17.5 percent solids.

If the calf received excellent newborn care (calving pen care, lots of clean high quality colostrum soon after birth) this high-concentration milk replacer mix may not result in problems. But, what if this quality of care is not true? These calves could begin scouring badly and easily become dehydrated enough to die.

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