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Milk Replacer for Livestock

Milk Replacer for Livestock

Posted by Grange Co-op on 15th Feb 2022

Milk replacer gives baby animals the nutrition they need for growth and development when their mother’s milk isn’t available. It also has ingredients to support gut health and digestion. In some circumstances, the milk replacer supplements a mother’s milk when she cannot produce enough to feed her baby adequately.

For owners of pregnant livestock or pets, it's highly recommended to keep milk replacer on hand for situations where a mother becomes unavailable. Milk replacer contains a balance of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates specific for the needs of baby animals. 

A convenient option we recommend is a multi-species milk replacer like that from Manna Pro that can keep a range of species healthy, including:

  • Calves
  • Foals    
  • Goat kids
  • Puppies
  • Piglets

When using a multi-species milk replacer, you must adjust the feeding schedule to meet the requirements of the species. Manna Pro Unimilk provides a guide on how much replacer to give each animal species.

It is important to note that milk replacer does not provide colostrum. Therefore, newborns that don’t have their mothers available at birth need a colostrum supplement within two hours of birth.

The Importance of Colostrum

Colostrum is the milk that mammals produce during the first few days after giving birth. It provides a variety of nutrients to the newborn, essential for growth and development. In addition, this first milk contains vital growth factors and the antibodies needed for immunity. Animals that don’t receive colostrum or get enough of it are much more likely to die within the first days of life.

You can provide the animal with a milk replacer during the first day or so while giving them the colostrum supplement. Then, begin feeding them a starter feed during the first or second week. Starter feed is a transitional feed given before weaning and starting the animal on a regular feed. Sprinkle the milk replacer on the starter feed to encourage the animal to eat. 

Feeding goat kids is different. Bottle-feeding goat kids is common even when the kids aren't orphans, especially for dairy goats. This feeding practice helps with disease control while increasing profits and creating friendlier goats. Specifically, it helps prevent the spread of Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE) that is transmitted through colostrum, blood, and milk. 

It is important to maintain a regular feeding schedule that allows goat kids to receive smaller, more frequent feedings that are easier to digest. Bottle-feeding gives you more control over how much the goat kid consumes and how often. This practice helps optimize digestion and gut health.

Tips for bottle feeding goats include:

  • Hold the animal in your lap.
  • Cradle the kid’s head in an upward position.
  • Gently pry the kid’s mouth open and insert the nipple of the bottle.
  • Cover the animal’s eyes.
  • Wipe the goat kid's bottom with a paper towel.

Persistence and patience are essential if you want the kid to take the bottle successfully. It is a different experience than drinking milk from its mother. Kid goats don’t usually take to the bottle right away, even if they are hungry. It might take multiple tries to help the goat overcome the unnatural feeling of eating from a bottle. However, it is always worth the effort to get the baby animal the nutrition they need.

Reasons You Might Need Milk Replacer

A common reason for giving milk replacer to calves or any other animal is that they are orphaned. Their mothers may have died during or right after the birthing process.

Also, some mothers don't produce enough milk to supply their newborns. It’s up to the owner to pay attention to the feeding process and know the signs that the baby isn't getting enough to eat. For example, foals typically nurse for very short periods throughout the day. If they continue suckling for more than 30 seconds at one time, they probably aren’t getting enough milk. Giving milk replacer as a supplement helps ensure the foal gets enough nutrition.

Sometimes new mothers are unsure about how to take care of their babies. They might reject them out of confusion. There are also times when the mother gets ill or injured and lacks the physical strength to feed her babies at regular intervals. If the mother is receiving medication, it can interfere with her ability to nurse safely, too.

Feeding Milk Replacer to Pets

It isn’t just livestock that can benefit from multi-species milk replacer. Pets sometimes need a supplement for their growth and development. Multi-species milk replacer fills the need for puppies who don’t get their mother’s milk for any reason — for example, mother dogs are sometimes unable or unwilling to nurse their puppies. 

If the puppies don't get the colostrum their mothers produce during the first day or two, they should receive colostrum replacer to protect them against viruses, bacteria, and parasites. In addition, they need to be fed milk replacer by bottle until they are ready to transition to the bowl.

Benefits of Manna Pro Unimilk Multi-Species Milk Replacer

Unimilk Milk Replacer provides high-quality proteins that support growth and development in a variety of animal species. In addition, the formula contains unique ingredients to support gut health and digestion. It’s easy to mix and use any time that feeding mother’s milk isn’t an option or doesn’t produce the best outcome. Easy storage lets you keep Unimilk Milk Replacer on hand for those urgent situations where a mother's milk isn't available.

Grange Co-op offers products from the best brands in the business. Shop our website for the products you need to keep your livestock and pets healthy. If you have questions, contact or visit us in-store. One of our Grange Pet/Livestock Experts would love to help you find the solutions needed for your farm and the new mothers on it!