Newborn cattle (i.e., calves) have special nutritional needs. That may not seem so obvious to laypeople outside the cattle industry. After all, since humans thrive on cows’ milk, and calves get the same from their mothers, it may stand to reason that calves are also easily fed. But in truth, the primary source of food at the beginning of a calf’s life is concentrated milk replacer, which will help the young calf digest an effective measure of nutrition throughout their meals. This is needed because newborn calves cannot yet digest grains or hay as well as an adult cow can.
Milk replacer formulations constitute a large commercial market in the U.S. Milk replacers substitute whole milk not only in calves’ diets, but also among other newborn farm animals, such as lambs and pigs. The Bovine Alliance on Management & Nutrition (BAMN) stated in a 2008 publication that “when fed properly, high quality milk replacers will allow calf growth and performance equal or even greater than that attainable with whole milk.”
Hermetically sealed barrier bags can help cattle producers in two significant ways. First is how the advanced materials in flexible packaging help protect milk replacers from dehydration, moisture or oxidation. Dan Wigman, Senior Industrial Packaging Specialist at Fres-co System USA, Inc., has accumulated a great deal of experience in packaging animal nutrition products, along with many other goods. He cites one customer who now uses Fres-co’s Termalock barrier package for their milk replacer.
“This customer’s product absorbs moisture from the air to some degree, so our multi-layer construction is an improvement over the paper packaging they used before. Not only will the product be preserved longer, but the billboard effect of the packaging provides very detailed nutritional information.”
Indeed, the high-quality, abrasion and scuff resistant printing available on flexible packaging can provide important information in the second area, which is the feeding and care of calves. This information includes:
INGREDIENTS: It is important for calf owners to know the source of the protein in their milk replacers; not all ingredients are created equal. The most digestible formulas are derived from milk, plasma and serum. On the other hand, many milk replacers are made from soy flour, and these should never be fed to a calf younger than three weeks old. Other substitutes, such as wheat, egg, or potato, may be less expensive than milk protein, but they are also not equivalent in nutritional value. It is also important to know the vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other nutritious additives in the composition of the milk replacer.
MIXING DIRECTIONS: There are strict temperature requirements for mixing milk replacers. On one hand, it should be hot enough to melt the fats into a format easily digestible by the calf. But if it is too hot, some important proteins may lose their nutritional value. Legible directions on a printed flexible bag will provide accurate guidance.
STORAGE AND SHELF LIFE: Clearly stated information will inform owners of the shelf life of their product, as well as how to refrigerate solution that is already mixed.
ADVICE ON MANAGING THE CALF: This section may include a wide range of information, including the need for colostrum upon the calf’s birth, the importance of water, the extra care a calf needs in cold weather (i.e., below 40ºF/4ºC), and when best to wean the calf.
Click here to learn more about how the Termalock industrial sealing system from Fres-co supports the producers, the distributors and users of milk replacement products. While you are on our site, check out the other pages that tell of the wide range of products that the Termalock industrial sealing system protects against dehydration, moisture and oxidation.
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