What can be simpler than mixing a little bit of powder in water, right? If it were just that simple…

When it comes to mixing milk replacer and also feeding it to calves there are a surprising number of issues that deserve to creep up, either native a mixing, feeding or an pet performance standpoint. Just how we measure up milk replacer powder, how we mix it v water and also the temperature at mixing and feeding time affect both the milk replacer and also the calf.

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Measuring Milk Replacer


A complementary measuring scoop is usually noted in each bag the milk replacer — considered by countless calf raisers to be an inconvenience that needs to be fished out and thrown away. When used according to label instructions, the scoop can approximate the weight of the wanted amount the powder. Basically, we’re making use of a volume estimate to approximate (or estimate) a weight measurement.

If you pick to usage the scoop for this purpose, save in mind the product density (how lot actually fits in a scoop) different from product to product and even within a product end time. Therefore it’s a great idea to examine the actually weight through a scale, and also mark a heat on the cup for the wanted weight. Part scoops room pre-marked, but you still require to examine the accuracy. Be continuous with how you scoop, and also since manufacturers use different scoops, be sure to usage the scoop the came through the product.

Weigh scale

This is the best method to go. No doubt around it. Using a weighing maker to measure weight eliminates the guesswork connected in using a scoop and assures consistency and also accuracy. That minimizes variability native calf come calf, native batch to batch and also from day to day. Variability is an even bigger difficulty when much more than one human is doing the measuring and also mixing. Weighing milk replacer instead of relying on a scoop walk a long means toward keeping things consistent and also running smoothly.

Kitchen/Household measure up cup

Although hardly ever an worry with seasoned calf raisers, I do come across folks native time come time who space using a traditional measuring cup to measure milk replacer, typically with negative results. Perhaps there wasn’t a scoop in the bag, or possibly they simply wanted to enhance their feeding accuracy, yet their pets aren’t doing very well and also they don’t recognize why.

The difficulty stems native the ease v which we usage a measure up cup to measure both dry and also liquid ingredients. Because that example, 8 oz the water equals one cup. This is a volume measure, indigenous a volume standpoint, a cup that water steps the very same as a cup of rice, a cup of spinach or a cup the milk replacer powder. Yet they every have different weights. By utilizing the 8 oz mark on the measure up cup to measure milk replacer powder, you’ll end up with around 1/2 the exactly amount the powder.

A huge plastic 2 or 4 cup capacity measuring cup is nice because that scooping powder into a bucket for weighing, however to use it because that measuring, you must calibrate it an initial by weighing the powder and marking the scoop accordingly.

Mixing Milk Replacer

Most milk replacers come with simple, straightforward instructions that tell you to add a specific amount of flour (usually 8 or 10 oz) to 2 quarts of heat water, mix, and also then feed the mixture come the calf. That’s yes sir if you’re feeding the calf v a pail, but what if you desire to fit that mixture into a 2 quart party or you’re mixing for much more than one calf?

You quickly realize you have actually a problem. As soon as you include milk replacer flour to water, the flour displaces several of the water, resulting in an ext liquid than the original volume of water. When adding 8 ounces of powder to 2 quarts that water, the last volume is about 70 ounces rather of the 64 ounces (2 quarts) you began with. This solution is an extremely different indigenous one where you mix powder and water so that the final volume (not the beginning volume) is 2 quarts — in this instance you begin with a quart or therefore of water, include powder, mix, climate add more water until you with a full volume that 2 quarts.


When utilizing 8 ounces the powder, the concentration, or percent solids of each of these remedies is markedly different. When you include the powder to 2 quarts of water, the solution is more dilute and has around 10.7% solids. In the 2nd case, wherein you include powder and also water come a fixed last volume that 2 quarts, the solution has around 11.6% solids. Both solutions have less solids than whole milk i beg your pardon is approximately 12 – 12.5% solids.

Adding 10 ounces of flour to 2 quarts that water results in a systems that’s 13% solids. Adding the 10 ounces the powder and also water come a last volume the 2 quarts offers you a systems that’s 14.5% solids.

To guarantee that calves don’t get short-changed nutritionally when feeding 8 ounces, mix powder and water to a last volume the 2 quarts. Once feeding 10 oz of powder, add the powder to 2 quarts of water for 13% solids.

You can feed higher solids, but as solids percent increases above 13%, accessibility to totally free choice water becomes more important. Calves need additional water to aid reduce the likelihood that scours or various other digestive problems. The top limit is around 18% solids.

The solids calculations supplied in the above examples are listed at the bottom of this article.

Mixing equipment

When mixing by hand, a cable whisk or whip need to be offered to aid ensure complete mixing. Whisks room specifically designed for this duty and are easily accessible in a variety of sizes. I recently came throughout a whisk that was 36 customs long.

Some farms include a tiny power to the mixing processes by utilizing a hand-held variable rate drill with a paint mixer attached. This can work OK, specifically when mix in 5 gallon buckets. Yet for the young and inexperienced, this form of unprotected an innovation has the potential for causing serious injuries.

Power mixers room a great choice when mixing bigger batches the milk replacer. Mixers can be stationary or portable and the tubs are frequently made the plastic or stainless steel. The stationary mixer pictured here has actually a contempt translucent plastic bathtub that lets you see the level of liquid from external the tub. This one has been calibrated and marked so it’s basic to phone call just just how much liquid you have. Once mixing, gradually adding milk replacer flour to the mixer while the is running helps protect against lumps. Be certain to add all of the powder before you with the final liquid volume.


Solubility is the biggest amount the milk replacer flour that will certainly dissolve in a provided amount the water at a details temperature. Most milk replacer ingredients dissolve in water. However, there room ingredients and specialty additives the are much less soluble and some that won’t dissolve no matter exactly how much friend mix. Many of these space suspendable in solution, and also some may eventually settle to the bottom or increase over time. The is crucial to mix fine so the all ingredients room evenly distributed in the liquid. This ensures that each calf receive the appropriate mix and level of nutrients.


Mix Temperature

The mix temperature is critical aspect of mix milk replacer. I have seen mix temperature referrals from a low of 105° F (41° C) come a high of over 170° F (76° C). That’s a mighty vast range, and also reflects a variety of objectives.

For numerous calf raisers, it’s all around getting milk replacer powder right into solution. A product that conveniently mixes in cool water may seem desirable, but it’s actually a bit irrelevant. Usage of one-of-a-kind emulsifiers during manufacturing can assist suspend fat in cool liquid, but warm water is necessary to carry the fat right into full contact with the liquid. The common fats provided in milk replacers normally melt between 95° and also 115° F (35°- 46° C). When melted, the fat becomes an integral part of the liquid emulsion, interacting with protein which help emulsify and dissolve the fat in the solution. At minimum, the water temperature supplied for mixing have to be high sufficient to acquire this done. Making use of a lower mix temperature frequently leads to lessened solubility and may adversely influence ingredient digestibility.

Fat Emulsion

During manufacturing, mixing protein and also fats in a solution has some exciting effects. Proteins interact with fats at your surface, binding v both the fat droplet and also the surrounding water molecules. As the mix temperature is increased during manufacturing, the result on fat is come break larger droplets into smaller ones. This increases the in its entirety fat surface easily accessible for protein attachments which improves overall solubility and also enhances fat digestibility.

In this method proteins coat the fat droplet, offering a barrier that avoids individual droplets indigenous joining together and also separating from the solution. The end result is a steady emulsion the fat and also protein – referred to as protein encapsulated fat.

Emulsion Breakdown

Undesirable impacts can happen if the temperature of the solution get too high throughout manufacturing or mix on the farm. Excessively high mix temperatures have the right to actually reason proteins to migrate away from the fat droplets. When this happens, fat droplets sign up with together and also rise come the surface of the solution. You may notification a slick deposit on mixing and also feeding tools when this happens. One more possibility is the proteins might remain attached to fat droplets, but accumulation together in high temperature conditions, causing clumping of protein/fat globules. Both situations are demonstrated in the image below. To avoid these problems, it’s finest to store mix temperature on the farm listed below 1450 F.


In reality, these behaviors are not simply due to alters in temperature. High pressure during manufacturing helps break fat right into smaller droplets. The varieties of proteins present, emulsifying agents, ion concentrations, pH, the visibility of various other ingredients and factors all affect the stability and also effectiveness the the emulsion.

There room several various manufacturing procedures for milk replacer. Each has its very own powder characteristics and also mixing requirements. This may sound also easy, yet follow the manufacturers instructions regarding the mix temperature for your milk replacer to minimize the chance of any kind of mixing issues.

Feeding Temperature

Temperature recommendations for feeding milk replacer selection from about 102° – 107° F (38.9° – 41.7° C) in the US. Greater feeding temperatures may be recommended in various other regions. Save in mind the the common body temperature that a healthy calf is just under 102° F . Feeding chillier milk replacer means the calf will heat the milk replacer come its human body temperature after it has actually been consumed. Not only does this garbage energy, cooler temperature liquids may reduce the calf”s willingness to drink.

Feeding heat milk replacer can aid stimulate closure the the esophageal groove. This is crucial as it stays clear of milk replacer indigenous entering the rumen and also potentially leading to digestive disturbances. This temperature effect appears to be relatively strong, due to the fact that feeding warm water alone has been shown to wake up esophageal groove closure as soon as fed come calves up to 16 mainly old*.

For milk replacer to arrive at the calf in ~ the right temperature, both the mixing temperature and also your feeding measures need to be considered. The temperature may need come be adjusted during mixing to accommodate the cooling that occurs between mixing and also feeding time. This is especially important during cold weather. You might need to modify your feeding procedure come prevent excessive cooling.

Thermometer/Temperature Gauges

The only way to recognize the temperature is to measure it. Instant-read thermometers are really quick and also inexpensive. You might use one in-line temperature gauge to determine your water temperature, yet a thermometer is still required to measure the temperature of the last mix. Cold milk replacer and mixing devices can fall the mix temperature rather a bit.

It’s also really important to measure the temperature of the milk replacer at the moment calves drink it. Usage an instant-read thermometer periodically together milk replacer is being fed to guarantee that that is the appropriate temperature. It is particularly important to remain on height of this as eco-friendly temperatures change or there are alters to your mixing or distribution procedures.

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Solids Calculations

Here’s what those calculations look choose – we’ll use gallons instead of quarts to make the math simpler.


1 gallon of water weighs 8.33 pounds1 gallon that milk replacer weighs 8.6 pounds (the same in its entirety milk)




* Abe, M, T. Iriki, K. Kondoh and H. Shibui. 1978. Effects of nipple or bucket feeding the milk-substitute top top rumen by-pass and also on price of passage in calves. Br. J. Nutr. 41: 173