Denkamilk calves, General - 22 December 2020

Proper digestion of nutrients is of utmost importance for the calf in the early weeks of life. Improper digestion of nutrients can lead to diarrhoea, the leading cause of death in pre-weaned calves. The digestion of milk takes place both in the abomasum and the intestinal tract. Pre-digestion (including coagulation) takes place in the abomasum with the help of acids and enzymes. This then allows the calf to further absorb all the nutrients in the intestines.

Acidifying to increase digestibility

The casein protein in cow’s milk, or calf milk replacer, will create a curd in the calf’s abomasum for optimal digestion. This happens at a low pH and with the aid of the rennet enzyme, comparable to the cheese-making process. Citric acid aids in this process and can improve the digestibility of cow’s milk. By adding Vitaladd (the active ingredient is citric acid) to the cow’s milk, the curd will form considerably faster, as seen in the picture below.

Good curd formation (left) and moderate curdling (right).


Acidification inhibits bacterial growth in milk

Environmental bacteria can present challenges and inhibit the proper digestion of nutrients. Denkamilk calf milk replacers are formulated to provide optimal nutrient uptake and prevent improper digestion of nutrients. Cow’s milk varies in composition from day to day, with a higher pH compared to milk replacers. If cow’s milk is left in the bucket for a long period (i.e. with ad-lib feeding) or if milk residues remain after cleaning (i.e. in/near the teats), bacterial growth will increase. This bacterial pressure negatively affects digestion. Additional acidification is therefore recommended when using cow’s milk to inhibit the growth of bacteria.

Acidifying the  with Vitaladd to supplement the cow’s milk with vitamins and minerals

Advancements over the years in the years, breeding and nutrition advancements of modern dairy cows. The fat and protein content has increased and the concentration of vitamins and minerals has decreased. This means the composition of cow’s milk is no longer best suited to the nutritionist suited to the calf’s nutritional needs

The mineral and vitamin status of the calf is highly dependent on the transfer of these components during pregnancy across the placenta, via the colostrum and the milk. Milk is rich in cam, phosphorus, potassium and chlorine but does not provide enough iron, manganese, copper, cobalt and vitamins D and E. Due to the low concentration in cow’s milk of some minerals and vitamins, the calf is at risk of deficiencies. Moderate deficiencies result in reduced growth and a suppressed immune system.


Learn more about Vitaladd