5 reasons which farmers claim to feed whole

5 reasons which farmers claim to feed whole

5 reasons which farmers claim to feed whole* milk to their calves

  1. I believe that whole milk is best for calves.
  2. It’s the best way to dispose the surplus milk.
  3. It’s easy and it saves a great deal of time.
  4. I have always done in this way. 
  5. Whole milk is of consistent quality
  6. *Whole milk is: Normal cow’s milk of good quality
    • Surplus milk
    • Milk with antibiotics


1-Whole milk contains too few vitamins and trace elements.
Due to changes in feed rations and the focus on milk production, the composition of cow’s milk has changed in recent decades. The fat content has risen and, because of high milk yields, the vitamin and trace element content has declined considerably. The result is that whole milk is no longer sufficient for the long-term needs of calves.
The nutritional elements shown in red in the table deviate from the requirement. The deficits in vitamins and trace elements could result in reduced immune system functioning, poor digestion and weaker bone structure. The risk of anaemia also rises.

2-Whole milk is too fatty.
The high fat content of whole milk slows down the development of the rumen, which obviously has a negative effect on concentrate and roughage intake. Therewith growth and development after weaning stay behind. In addition, the excess of fat often causes diarrhoea.

3-Whole milk can transmit diseases to your calves.
There are seven known diseases that are easily transmitted by whole milk. Especially by unpasteurised milk! These include Para TBC, Salmonella, BVD and infectious mastitis.

4-Even very low doses of antibiotic can be damaging
Do not give your calves milk with penicillin, even if the dose of antibiotics might appear very small. Giving low concentrations of antibiotics to calves over a long period of time speeds up the development of resistance when heifers are fed milk.
This is undesirable and is easily prevented.

5-There is a better way to use surplus milk.
Feed your surplus milk to the bull calves until they are 14 days of age. This is a good way for many farms to efficiently dispose of most or even all of their surplus milk. Provide 6 to 8 litres of colostrum to all calves for the first three days.
Feed heifer calves with Sprayfo after three days. Feed bull calves 6 to 8 litres of surplus milk per day until slaughter. When feeding surplus milk, pay special attention to iron levels: give bull calves an iron injection and/or feed Sprayfo Vimix for 3 days (10 grams per day).

6-Easy? Not if you use a responsible feeding scheme!
Feeding whole milk to calves requires a lot of care and attention. The milk is often too cold when it comes from the milking shed. If it is not properly warmed up, it may cause diarrhoea. Whole milk is very easily contaminated. It is therefore advisable to feed the milk directly after milking. Milk is a breeding ground for the rapid growth of bacteria, as a result of which the calf is at risk of catching infectious diarrhoea.

7-Apperance can be deceiving! 
Calves fed whole milk might look healthy. The high fat content ensures a shiny coat and good stomach filling. However, this conceals a shortage of vitamins and minerals (see 1) and an underdeveloped rumen (see 2).

8-Feeding cow’s milk means too much manual labour for large herds!
A simple calculation:
To feed 50 calves, you must move at least 15,000 liters of whole milk. And that is a lot more work than just emptying 80 bags of powdered milk replacer in the feeding machine, which provides the same volume of milk feed. 

9-Making whole milk less fatty is pointless.
You can make the whole milk less fatty by diluting it with water. However, this will even lower the levels of vitamins and trace elements even further. An alternative is creaming off the fat. But that also removes the fat-soluble vitamins. In both cases, you reduce the dry matter content of the milk, which can also lead to diarrhoea.

10-Whole milk is not stable.
The levels of dry matter, protein, fat and lactose can vary significantly. And that can affect the calf. Daily changes in nutrient concentrations during weaning lead to an unstable growth curve and increase the risk of diarrhoea.