Which key factors play a role when selecting a replacer?
Are the different brands of calf milk replacers exchangeable just like that? Absolutely not! There are essential differences in solubility, intake (what can and will the calf drink?), digestibility (making use of nutrients) and consistency of quality. The differences have a major impact on the health and growth of young calves. What are the distinguishing elements of Sprayfo?
The differences in calf milk replacer are mainly a reflection of the raw materials used and method of production. Sloten – producer of Sprayfo – has developed a vegetable-based fat blend for all sorts of animals. This blend is combined with dairy ingredients using a unique proprietary production process.
Miniscule fat globules
Sloten has its own dairy factory where it actually produces its own raw materials for Sprayfo. The process begins with mixing fresh dairy products with vegetable oils and fats. This mix is pasteurised and then high-pressure homogenized and spray-dried using advanced technology. This results in minuscule fat globules of uniform size, similar to the smaller fat molecules in cow's milk. Homogenization sort of ‘encapsulates’ the fat globules in protein and lactose. In this form and with these constituent parts, the globules and nutrients are easy for the calf to process and digest in the abomasum and the small intestine.
Solubility, digestibility, consistent quality
The differences in production methods and composition determine how the milk replacer performs on three key factors: solubility, digestibility and consistency of quality.
1. What is effective solubility?
After mixing with water, good calf milk replacer will generally mix without forming any small lumps. Such undissolved lumps cause digestive problems, even when they are very small and difficult to detect with the naked eye.
Specifically products using skimmed milk powder often dissolve poorly at temperatures below 50 degrees. Sloten's production process as described above ensures that dissolvability is still optimal at temperatures of 40 degrees, even in products with high levels of skimmed milk powder.
2. It's all about digestibility
Digestibility is all about making use of the available proteins, lipids (fats) and carbohydrates the milk contains. The more digestible the replacer is, the more a calf will drink, as it will not feel satiated so quickly. Good calf milk replacer at just the right temperature induces the required reflex in the oesophagus, directing the milk to the abomasum and not the rumen.
Protein for growth
The abomasum metabolizes some of the proteins in the milk, with the rest being metabolized in the small intestine. The metabolizing products – amino acids – are absorbed by the calf and primarily used for growth.
Fats and carbohydrates for energy
The fats in the milk are already partially metabolized by digestive enzyms in the saliva. Other lipids are metabolized in the small intestine and converted into energy for the calf. The small intestine also metabolizes carbohydrates (mainly lactose) into glucose and galactose. Uptake in the small intestine also acts as a source of energy for the calf.
Skimmed milk powder: gradual digestibility
The microscopically small fat globules, encapsulated in protein and lactose, easily find their way from the abomasum to the small intestine and are then metabolized and transported further. Additionally, some products in the Sprayfo range contain skimmed milk powder. This ingredient causes curdling in the abomasum, which in turn helps to predigest proteins, and ensures greater uniformity of transport to the small intestine and further effective digestion there. This is thanks to the protein casein in the milk powder. Casein curdles in the stomach at low pH levels.
It might sound complicated, but this casein is slightly different than the caseinate often found in calf-milk replacer. That is an ingredient that comes from processing casein protein. In nutritional terms, caseinate is a good product but, contrary to casein from skimmed milk powder, results in considerably less curdling in the stomach.
3. Focus on consistently high quality
Do you get the same constant quality from your supplier? The market for raw materials is quite volatile, as are prices. So how do you ensure consistent quality over the long term?
Sprayfo buys its dairy ingredients in liquid form from renowned dairy companies in the Netherlands and neighbouring countries. The fact that we can trace the origins of our dairy flows means we also always process only the highest-quality raw materials. And the fact that we only use liquid flows means we always work with the freshest ingredients. This is a major factor in ensuring consistent quality of the Sprayfo products.
Of total Sprayfo production, 90% is destined for export. Our brand is trusted by dairy farmers across the world. Which is why quality is for us a top priority, and we refuse to be seduced into changing the composition just to profit from price fluctuations when purchasing raw ingredients.