One of the most common questions we get asked at Ngahiwi is this:

“Why should I buy your calf milk replacer, when I have perfectly good milk in the vat?”

The answer depends on a few things and unlike the Friesians on your farm, is not black and white.

The first thing to consider is the number dairy farmers live and die by — the Fonterra payout at the farm gate. As we know all too well, this number can fluctuate considerably, from $8.50/kg milk solids in 2013-14 to just half that two years later ($4.30). This makes the milk in your vat more or less valuable, so you’ll be less keen to feed it to your replacement heifers or bull beef calves when the price is high. We have done a back-of-the-envelope calculation and reckon $6.00/kgms is about the tipping point for most farmers. With this year’s payout looking close to $8.00, that will generally point to more Ngahiwi CMR in your calculations. (NB. This will vary depending on your circumstances, see below for our calculation so you can make your own).

Of course, it needn’t be one or the other. Rather than 100% CMR or 100% vat milk, the middle ground involves “fortifying” your vat milk by adding CMR. It sounds like a dollar each way, but the CMR has some very real benefits. It “front-loads” the calf’s nutrition, giving them higher protein and fat intake at the early stage of life when they can best absorb it. As well as increasing energy in the

feed, CMRs have vitamin and mineral premixes, prebiotics and probiotics and coccidiostat that vat milk doesn’t. For a relatively small cost per/litre, you can maximise the effectiveness of your existing vat milk.

All the arguments in the world won’t help if you’re just happy to take the path of least resistance.

Pumping vat milk out might seem to be the fastest way to feed, but with the milk solids price looking, well, solid, and you’re looking for a way to improve your margins — then Ngahiwi CMR is well worth considering.

(Quick calculations: NB. Prices exclude gst, and assume 125 grams per litre normal reconstitution rate.

Ngahiwi Supplementary CMR @ $60/bag = 37.5c/litre

Vat milk @ $6.00/kgms = 48c/litre

Vat milk @ $8.00/kgms = 64c/litre)

    Dairy Farming animal nutrition

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