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Milk Replacer Matches Colostrum Given in First 24 Hours

10 March 2015

IRELAND – Lambs fed a colostrum replacer matched performance of those fed ewe colostrum for the first 24 hours of life in a University College Dublin trial.

Surplus lambs from the University’s 350 ewe flock were split into two groups, recording identical pre-weaning growth rates and nil mortality after one group was started on a whey protein concentrate.

This mirrors Harper Adams University research and over 30 farm studies which found a milk replacer effective as a first feed for lambs.

Half the lambs were fed ewe colostrum at 50ml/kg birth weight at one, 10 and 18 hour intervals after birth whilst the remainder were each fed at the same intervals, one, 50g sachet of milk alternative (three, 50g sachets over 18 hours). All the surplus lambs were reared artificially on a milk replacer product ad libitum via a Ewe-2 feeder from 24 hours, and weaned at just over six weeks old.

Dr Tommy Boland of UCD said: “The two groups of lambs recorded identical pre-weaning growth rates and nil mortality which highlights that when ewe colostrum is in short supply, as is often the case with multiple births, triplet lambs can be successfully artificially reared and achieve high growth rates.”

The study shows the product works as a nutrient source in early life, according to technical specialist at Volac, the producers of the whey concentrate solution and subsequent milk replacer, Dr Jessica Cooke.

She said: “The alternative is based on high quality un-denatured whey proteins which have been processed under low temperature conditions that maintain the integrity of the biologically valuable globular proteins essential to the young lamb.”

She added that a first feed of 50 grams of the product provides more protein (38g) than a 140 ml feed of ewe colostrum (28g).

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