Written by Pascal van Keulen | Product Manager Denkamilk
Denkamilk calves - 9 November 2021

In order to be less dependent on dairy raw materials as a protein source, vegetable ingredients offer a sustainable solution for inclusion in calf milk replacer. In this article, we discuss the results from our research utilizing wheat protein as a vegetable protein source.

What is the “right” protein?

By including varied levels of vegetable protein with a balanced amino acid profile and a high digestibility, it is possible to achieve excellent growth results with a high degree of safety. A pre-treatment is essential for maximal digestibility of these vegetable proteins. Hydrolyzed wheat protein, soy protein concentrate and extruded pea protein are ideally suited protein sources when properly sourced and treated.

Next step, research!

Before a new protein source can be included in a milk replacer, it is first tested through practical on-farm application at our DenkaFarm Innovation Centre. At this research facility we have the ability to measure digestibility, various feeding styles & volumes, multiple inclusion levels with different formulas, and general health and performance parameters.

More about our trial set-up

We recently presented one of the studies performed at the DenkaFarm Innovation Center at the 41st Annual ADSA Discover Conference in Chicago, IL. We looked at the effect of replacing part the dairy proteins with hydrolyzed wheat protein and how that impacted growth performance, digestion efficiency, and health of pre-weaned dairy calves.


As seen in the tables and figures below, there was no difference in  measured growth and health parameters. These similarities between different treatments conclude that hydrolyzed wheat protein can successfully replace some dairy proteins in milk replacer without hindering calf performance.

Average daily gain (g/d)

Feed efficiency (CMR-eq/kg growth)

Health performance


The dairy ingredient market is more volatile than ever before, which can lead to drastic increases in milk replacer prices. Having an economical alternative, like hydrolyzed wheat protein, that will not hinder performance is essential. Check back soon to learn about our research looking at inclusion levels of soy protein concentrate and pea protein in milk replacer!

Want to read more about vegetable protein sources in calf milk replacer?  Click here