Calf milk replacer still provides best financial payback

The temptation during periods of lower milk price is to cut purchased feed costs to reduce farm expenditure. These cost-cutting tactics often extend to youngstock feeding, with some farmers replacing calf milk replacer (CMR) with lower-value whole milk in the hope of saving money. However, recent costings from ForFarmers indicate that even at a lower milk price point the financial gains made by feeding a high-quality CMR still stack up.


“If we used an example milk price of 30ppl, dairy farmers could make £23.40 extra income per calf if they choose to feed a CMR compared to whole milk,” explains Dr Bethan Till, ForFarmers’ Ruminant Specialist. “A calf will require around 328 litres of whole milk up to eight weeks of age, which at 30ppl equates to £98.40. If we took a ForFarmers Vitamilk Classic CMR the cost would be £75 to feed up to eight weeks. So rather than feeding that whole milk to the calf, a farmer would be better off financially by selling the 328 litres of milk, feeding a CMR and pocketing the extra milk revenue instead.”

And while these costings are based on a lower milk price, Bethan also stresses that when price does increase the financial benefits of feeding a CMR becomes even clearer.

“At a milk price of 34ppl, the extra income gained by feeding the Vitamilk Classic CMR rather than whole milk increases to £36.52,” concludes Bethan. “As such, I would encourage all dairy farmers to re-examine their approach to calf feeding over the coming months. While feeding whole milk might seem like a cost-saving measure, it’s a CMR that will give the better financial payback.”

Calves drinking Pencwarre Fm resized
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