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Virginia Cooperative Extension - Knowledge for the CommonWealth

It's Not Just Corn Prices That Are High!

Dairy Pipeline: August 2007

Bob James
Extension Dairy Scientist, Dairy Nutrition
(540) 231-4770;

Anyone feeding calves recently has noticed that the price of milk replacers (and whole milk) is up drastically. Milk prices now exceed $20/cwt. Dried whey and whey protein concentrate, two principal sources of proteins in milk replacers, increased from $.52 to $.80/lb. and from $1.00 to $1.65/lb, respectively, since January. Whey protein prices have increased due to its popularity as a protein source for health foods and it is also used as a substitute for skim milk powder in baking. Edible lard, a primary fat source in milk replacers increased from $425 to over $700/ton during the same time period due to demand for its use as biodiesel.

How should one respond to these prices increases? First, remember that the calves’ nutrient requirements have not changed. These are young animals that require large quantities of high quality energy and protein for optimal growth. Deficiencies cause increased illness, mortality and poor growth. As calf feed costs have increased so have the value of calves with day old calves selling for more than $500. At these high prices a saving of $50 in calf rearing costs can rapidly be offset by increased illness or death of one calf. What’s the best strategy to control costs? Some do’s and don’ts follow:



Regardless of the economic conditions, it’s necessary to maintain a high quality nutrient supply to baby calves. Would you feed low quality or limited feed to a human infant? Why should the calf be different?


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