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0609 PD: The keys to successfully using pasteurized waste milk

Published on 09 April 2009
Waste milk supplies will fluctuate.

Volume changes from day to day and solids content will vary on-farm. Pasteurization doesn’t necessarily mean sterilization. Waste milk must be properly handled from beginning until all calves are fed. Equipment cleaning and sanitizing cannot be overlooked. Calves need consistency in their diets. Waste milk quality should be tested routinely and supplementation will likely be necessary.

Land O’Lakes Animal Milk Products conducted 145 sample tests at farms across the U.S. consisting of Holstein and Jersey herds. Land O’Lakes conducted this research because pasteurizing waste milk is a process that must be managed by a skilled operator. And availability of waste milk on large dairies will continue to fuel interest in feeding it safely. Pasteurized waste milk is just one way to provide calves with the nutrients they need.



Keys to successfully feeding pasteurized waste milk include the performance of specific steps both before and after pasteurization.

• Before pasteurization, the total volume of available waste milk needs to be assessed and the waste milk needs to be tested for fat, protein and other solids.

• After pasteurization, all calves should be fed within 30 to 60 minutes after the pasteurization process, or milk should be refrigerated.

• Milk replacer should be supplemented as necessary. Regular testing of bacteria counts in milk should take place and all manufacturer’s cleaning and sanitizing guidelines should be followed closely.

Calves need consistent diets that provide the right amount of nutrients to support growth. Wild swings in nutrition can adversely affect calf growth. Producers need to plan for variation in volume and nutrient content of waste milk. Testing milk quality and solids should be an integral part of that process.


On-farm data on bacteria counts before and after pasteurization shows that only 59 percent of dairies in the study had a lower bacteria count after pasteurization. Just under one-quarter of them had a higher count after pasteurizing.

The data also showed that in regards to the last calf bacteria count, just 26 percent of the dairies in the study fed all calves pasteurized waste milk that met the 20,000 colony-forming units per milliliter benchmark for bacteria. PD

—Excerpts from Dairy Calf and Heifer Association Heard in the Hutch newsletter, November 2008