Hydration and Nutrition Week: The Wrap-Up

Hydration and Nutrition Week: The Wrap-Up

We decided to put a Feed For Growth spin on this year’s Hydration and Nutrition Week on 14th-20th June by sharing some of our insights into calf development.

Obviously, hydration and nutrition are important factors for human health, but they are also vital for calf health and development. Here’s what we shared for the week.


A common misconception is that milk and milk replacers also help with calf hydration. Milk replacer serves as food, not a drink, so calves need plenty of access to both.

Calves perform at their best if fresh drinking water is available from birth, and will typically drink up to two litres per day. Make sure drinkers are easy to access, easy to clean and close to drainage and remember that milk replacer serves as food, not a drink.

Ingredient Overview

Imunopro™ is our not-so-secret active ingredient that is vital to all of our milk replacers. A unique blend of super-concentrated functional milk proteins, Imunopro™ contains high levels of the essential amino acids that are needed for calf growth and development, such as lysine and leucine. The concentrated milk protein also primes the immune system, assists in pathogen control, and lays the groundwork for healthy calf development.

Imunopro™ contains five times more concentrated milk oil than standard whey or skim powders. The sugars contained in these milk oils are concentrated, which helps to encourage the development of a healthy bacteria population in the young calf’s gut and boost the immune system.

The amino acids lysine and leucine are present in Imunopro™ at elevated levels. Lysine is the building block of protein, which is used in the sports industry to improve athletic performance. Leucine helps to increase muscle mass, as well as aiding muscle recover after exercise, and supplying the body with energy. Another amino acid, lactoferrin has also been identified at elevated levels in Imunopro™, which has been shown to help reduce the instance of scours. These amino acids all have a positive impact on calf health, growth and development.

Butyrate is an energy source for the gut that is naturally found in milk fat and colostrum but is not present in the vegetable fat sources which are used in the milk formulas such as palm and coconut.

We supplement our milk formulas with additional butyrate to help with digestibility and better all-round growth of calves: 

  •  Stimulates digestive enzyme production 
  •  Stimulates intestinal blood flow and proliferation of intestinal cells 
  •  Has anti-inflammatory effects and protects cells from oxidative damage 
  •  Enhances glycogen synthesis and can therefore improve liver function

A vital ingredient in our new ImunoGard® calf milk replacer, CELMANAX™ is a hydrolysed yeast culture that helps to improve calf growth and performance.

CELMANAX™ could potentially contribute to decreasing medical costs by binding to the harmful pathogens (including E.coli & Salmonella) thus preventing them from attaching to the intestinal wall and taking hold.

Due to the enzymatic hydrolysis process that breaks down the yeast cell wall, it makes the Refined Functional Carbohydrates (such as mannose and beta-glucans) readily available for use by the calf. 

The garlic-derived Gardion®, which is found in many of our milk replacers, is known for its natural ability to enhance the function of the immune system and improve gut health.

Designed to improve gut health, Gardion® also has:

  • Antiviral activity 
  • Antibacterial properties 
  • Antifungal response

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals are required for normal metabolic processes and growth, they also play an essential role in the immune function and health of an animal.

Over recent years, calf nutrition programmes have been developed to improve calf growth and survival and the long-term performance of animals. In view of these changes to calf feeding, the level of vitamins and minerals needed to support faster-growing calves has been reviewed, based on the latest scientific research.

Based on the current data the content of vitamins D3 and E, and the trace minerals, manganese and iron, in Volac calf milk replacer have been revised. The level of the other vitamins and trace minerals has remained unchanged.


Energy is essential for young calves’ normal body functions, including digestion, respiration, heat production, and, of course, growth. As starter intake is minimal during the first three weeks of a calf’s life, the energy that a calf has available is directly proportional to the supply of milk or milk replacer that you provide.

All of our milk replacers have been formulated to ensure that they deliver enough energy from the fats and sugars to fuel growth. We also ensure that the energy content is not too high, which helps with the transition onto starter feed.

Hydration and Nutrition are Key to Calf Development

Not only do hydration and nutrition play a key role in calf health and development, but they also help to prevent diseases such as calf bloat. Milk formulas such as our new ImunoGard® can even help farmers who are struggling to manage persistent digestive disturbances in their calves.

Nutrition is crucial during the pre-weaned stage, with the development of mammary cells, the gut, and metabolic programming taking place during this early life period. So, feeding high levels of milk replacer is vital during this period, when feed conversion efficiency is at its highest.

Providing the necessary nutrition to sustain rapid growth rates (>750g per day) during the first two months of life should not only result in more efficient and economical heifer rearing but also deliver greater lifetime milk output when these replacement animals join the milking herd.

Choosing the right milk replacer for you, and ensuring fresh water is available from birth will help in your mission to develop a healthy and happy herd.

Published on: 16 July 2021

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