With international demand driving demand for dairy product commodities increasing the payout at the farm gate, the ramification of these increased commodity prices have also been driving up the price of CMRs for the forthcoming calf rearing season.
While New Zealand calves have been traditionally raised on either vat milk or a casein-based milk replacer, an increasing number of NZ farmers are discovering the benefits of whey-based products have been utilised with resounding success throughout the US and European dairy industries for the past 30 years.
The key difference of whey and casein products is in the ingredients. Whey products are a blend of whey proteins, vegetable proteins and highly digestible vegetable fats where as casein products are a combination of milk solids and milk fats. The difference in ingredients impacts on how the neonatal calf digests the milk. Casein products must first form a curd before the nutrients pass further through the digestive system and are absorbed. This is in contrast to Whey CMRs which do not require curding resulting in faster digestion and absorption of nutrients and a reduction in the incidence of nutritional scours (based on European research). The use of whey also promotes earlier uptake of hard feed concentrates such as NRM Moozlee.
Whey products such as NRM’s Power Whey also contain vitamins and minerals for optimal growth, as well as prebiotics and organic acids to reduce gut pathogens and promote beneficial gut microbes for enhanced disease resistance.
A key influencer in the reduction of nutritional scours is the consistent quality of ingredients. Nutritional scours can be triggered by inconsistent blends of milk powders and casein products are also at risk of being heat damaged during the manufacturing process which can affect their curding ability increasing the risk of scouring.
As the dairy industry continues to improve their processing abilities, less downgrade milk powder is available for use in casein CMRs. This is one of the key contributing factors towards the price differential between casein and whey products and why whey is the cost effective CMR alternative this season.
Like casein based CMR’s, whey based CMR’s are suitable for all feeding systems.