Hans Maas Development specialist
Vulnerable digestive system
Refining and improving calf milk replacer is a continuous process, explained Hans Maas, employed in Research and Development at FrieslandCampina Ingredients Animal Nutrition. “The digestive system in young calves is not yet fully developed. As a result, they are extremely vulnerable and errors or shortcomings in their feed results in immediate health problems.” The new intestinal health formula IMAGRO in Kalvolac represents an important step towards further optimising calf milk replacer.
Maas explained that a variety of different ingredients are already processed in the existing milk powder, to ensure healthy growth. These include organic acids. “They deliver a lower pH in the stomach. As a result, the enzymes function more effectively and the acid tackles pathogens like salmonella and E.coli.” He went on to refer to probiotics and prebiotics as valuable elements. “Probiotics are healthy intestinal bacteria that force out unwanted intestinal bacteria. Prebiotics encourage the growth of probiotics.”
Plus an emulsifier
The ingredients listed above mainly function in the stomach of the calf and the large intestine, explained Maas. “We have now added another component to IMAGRO, that has a positive effect on digestion in the small intestine: an emulsifier.” The emulsifier in the calf milk replacer helps improve the digestion of the globules of fat that pass through the stomach and enter the small intestine. In more technical terms, the emulsifier guarantees a finer distribution and improves digestion of the fat. It helps the bile salts reduce the fat globules and assists with the transport of fat from the intestine into the bloodstream. In this way, the fat in the calf milk replacer can be better digested and makes all the energy in the feed available for the animal. In young animals, these components are not yet fully developed, so the emulsifier makes an important contribution to fat digestion.
More energy, more growth
“The overall result is improved energy provision to the calf, so the calves themselves deliver improved growth performance,” concluded Maas, who was able to underpin the figures with a practical trial. “The calves fed with Kalvolac including the new IMAGRO grew 50 grams a day faster, and what was even more favourable: they achieved a diarrhea score of 4% as compared with 23% in the group of calves not fed this milk powder. In other words, the calves fed with Kalvolac IMAGRO have healthy digestive performance and achieve higher growth.”