Pasteurized whole milk is one of many strategies used to supply the liquid diet of growing calves. This whole milk can be sourced from several different areas of any given dairy operation, including saleable bulk tank milk, transition milk, mastitic milk or other non-saleable antibiotic-containing milk. While feeding saleable bulk tank milk to calves usually results in an economic loss to the producer, pasteurizing and feeding non-saleable milk — essentially waste milk — can be an effective, cost-efficient method for utilizing an otherwise unusable product, provided it can be managed properly.  

There are two types of pasteurizers. Batch pasteurization uses a vat or tank with a heating element that heats the milk. Agitators are used with batch pasteurization to eliminate cold spots within the tank. This system typically heats the milk for longer periods of time at lower temperatures, as compared to high-temperature short-time units. Thereafter, milk is cooled and can be fed to calves. 

Continuous flow pasteurization circulates milk through a network of heated coils for a rapid increase in temperature. This high-temperature, short-time system can be equipped to rapidly cool the milk to feeding temperature once pasteurization is complete. 

Benefits of feeding pasteurized waste milk include reduced disease transmission; utilization of waste milk; and provides the opportunity for improved calf health and performance

The drawbacks of feeding pasteurized waste milk include intensive management; failure of pasteurization; inadequate waste milk supply; and inconsistent nutrient composition.

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ option when it comes to selecting a liquid feeding program for growing calves. Major factors to consider when establishing a program should include targets for nutrient intake in relation to growth goals, ease of managing the program, economics and potential disease risks. 

This article was submitted by the Dairy Calf and Heifer Association.