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A BAMN Publication - Feeding Pasteurized Milk to Dairy Calves


This guide is published by the Bovine Alliance on Management and Nutrition (BAMN), which is comprised of representatives from the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP), American Dairy Science Association (ADSA), American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The BAMN group is charged with developing timely information for cattle producers regarding management and nutritional practices.

Common liquid feeding programs include commercial milk replacer, saleable whole milk and non-saleable (waste) milk. Non-saleable milk typically includes transition milk from the first six milkings, abnormal milk and milk from treated cows. Factors to consider when selecting a liquid feeding program include 1) targets for nutrient intake in relation to goals, 2) ease of managing the program, 3) economics and 4) potential disease risks. An important risk associated with feeding raw milk is the potential exposure to pathogenic bacteria such as Mycobacterium paratuberculosis–the bacterium causing Johne’s disease, Salmonella spp., Mycoplasma spp., and Escherichia coli. Some pathogens may be introduced directly from an infected udder, while others are introduced through manure contamination or bacterial growth in milk improperly collected, stored or handled. Because of these concerns, it is often recommended that producers avoid feeding raw (saleable or non-saleable) milk to calves. Two alternatives include feeding commercial milk replacer or pasteurized milk. The objective of  this paper is to discuss some of the potential benefits and disadvantages of feeding pasteurized milk, as compared to traditional milk replacer. A companion BAMN paper “Managing a pasteurizer system for feeding milk to calves” discusses the management of a pasteurizer feeding system.


The principle author of this publication was Sandra Godden, DVM, DVSc, Department of Veterinary Population Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota