Fortified Milk Guidelines


What is fortified milk?

Fortified milk is “the addition of calf milk replacer to whole milk”. This provides a high energy, high protein feed in a smaller volume than would otherwise be required to achieve a similar nutritional content if using whole milk or calf milk replacer alone.

Why use fortified milk?

High protein and energy allows optimal growth rates to be achieved without the need to feed high volumes of milk. Feeding fortified milk can help overcome the challenges associated with high volume feeding programs which rely on feeding 20-25% body weight in milk volume daily. Australian research has shown that calves fed on 4 litres/day of fortified milk gained an additional 0.1kg/day from birth until week 8, compared to calves fed on 4 litres/day of whole milk. This resulted in a 6kg weight advantage at 8 weeks of age for the calves fed on fortified milk.

How to use fortified milk?

There is no ‘one size fits all’ protocol for feeding fortified milk to dairy calves. Every farm is different and the optimal program will depend on the farm’s current feeding system, frequency of feeding, protein: fat ratio of the milk replacer utilised, and the nature of the milk to which the milk replacer is added. It is recommended to discuss fortified milk feeding options with your veterinarian and MaxCare provider prior to embarking on a tailored program.

What is the desirable practice for fortified milk?


Critical Unsuitable

Individual feeding system to allow a known volume to be fed to each calf on a daily basis

Consistent feeding routine (small group pens < 10 calves with controlled feeding
volumes/partitioned feeders)

Large feeding groups (>10 calves) or smaller feeding groups with no control over volume fed per calf on a daily basis

Routine measurement of total solids using a Brix refractometer

Consistent brand of CMR

Inability to provide consistent feeding routine

Good relationship with your veterinarian and CMR provider

Consistent mix rate through to weaning

Inability to measure milk volume or CMR

Monitoring of pre-weaning growth

Ad lib fresh clean water from birth

Lack of equipment for thorough mixing

Ad lib calf starter from birth

Lack of safe storage of CMR

Suitable equipment to allow thorough mixing

Lack of attentive staff to monitor calf health and growth

Safe storage of CMR

This blog article was prepared in conjunction with Dr Gemma Chuck BVetMed PhD from Apiam Health.

If you are interested in reading more articles about calf nutrition, click here.