Specification V's Formulation

All animal feeds legally have to have a declaration on the label, which gives parameters about the diet however this has little to do with the specification and formulation which is what the ration is made up of which is of much more interest.


Legally required and shows the physical parameters of the diet this is checked periodically by Trading Standards and the production company can be prosecuted if the analyses are incorrect. It is seen on the declaration label attached to the bag as. The indications below are based on milk powder.

  • Oil % - this indicates the % level of energy giving ingredients but not the digestible amount
  • Protein % - this indicates the overall % of protein in the diet but not the digestible amount
  • Fibre % - shows the amount of fibrous material which in milk powder is nil
  • Ash % - this is the amount of ash left after all other matter has been burnt off indicates levels of minerals and but not what the minerals are.
  • + The Vitamins

The diet is made to meet a specification this will be set on nutritional parameters such as protein % also the amounts of different protein sources and the digestibility. The energy levels including the sources and the micro ingredients necessary for animal nutrition. The manufacturing company does not have to give this specification but in many cases will. When the specification has been set there is a formulation from various raw materials made up to meet the requirements of the specification.


The only mandatory requirement on formulation is to declare the ingredients used in descending order of use. This does help as you are made aware of the ingredients used but can also be very confusing as in an extreme see how this can be interpreted below.

Formulation in descending orderProduct AProduct B
Whey powder51%20%
Delactosed whey powder20%19%
Vegetable oil19%17%
Wheat gluten3%15%
Wheat starch 10%
Vitamins & minerals2%3%
Total dairy products>70%43%

The formulations above are both legal however deliver totally different nutrition to the recipient. The skill in producing a replacer that performs is in the formulation but also the quality of the raw materials being used. Companies will invest heavily in the research and development of raw materials and how they interact with the calf in the rearing unit. Van Drie (Tentomilk) has a comprehensive facility with 1800 calves on different regimes at any one time, researching nutrition and supplementation with the aim to get the most cost effective growth.

Raw Materials

Calf milk replacer is made up of dairy based by products, which are supplemented by vegetable oils and cereal based products. The feed values and source of factory are a key element in raw material evaluation only a comprehensive company can deliver this.

Calves at a young age are designed to digest milk and are not physiologically able to digest some cereals and fats ideally the higher the dairy products the better.

Milk based raw materials offer as near mother as possible and deliver protein and some energy to the diet. The reason milk replacer is more economic than whole milk is that the products used from the milk are by- products from milk manufacture cheese, butter, yoghurts, etc see chart below (click to enlarge):

Click to enlarge image

Vegetable oils fats these deliver the energy content of the die, the calf is only able to digest certain oils, which should be derived from coconut palms. It is even more complex, the calf can only absorb oils of a very small particle size therefore the factory of origin is also crucial.

Cereals these deliver both protein and energy sources but have to be very carefully processed so the young calf can digest and absorb them, as the calf gets older up to 4/5 weeks it's digestive system evolves to handle these better.

Micro ingredients these are an essential part of the building blocks for the calf, one of the more important is LYSINE, which is both essential and very expensive, Tentomilk has high levels.

© Copyright Calf Logic 2012 | Contact us | Cookies

We have placed cookies on your computer to help make this website better. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.