Competition among animal feed and human food manufacturing industries for milk protein ingredients continues to intensify, greatly affecting the availability and price of milk proteins. Milk replacers that replace a portion of the milk protein with proteins from non-milk sources, such as from wheat and animal plasma, can provide an excellent, affordable alternative to high-priced milk protein ingredients.
Hydrolyzed wheat gluten is ideally suited for incorporation into calf milk replacers. The hydrolyzed wheat gluten used in Merrick’s wheat milk replacers is produced from human food-grade wheat gluten proteins that are enzymatically hydrolyzed and transformed to small proteins and peptides. This isolate is low in fiber and ash and is much higher in protein when compared to milk protein ingredients such as whey protein concentrate. Digestibility of wheat protein isolate dry matter, organic matter and crude protein is very high and is estimated to be 95%.
Animal plasma proteins used in Merrick’s milk replacers provide a unique protein source that contains active albumin and globulin proteins such as IgG and IgM. This highly soluble, high quality protein source has an amino acid profile and nutritive value comparable to nonfat dried (skim) milk and casein. In the digestive tract, IgG has a direct effect on pathogens and may also have a direct effect on the intestinal lining.
Previous research with wheat proteins (Merrick’s, Inc. 2000) demonstrated that calves receiving a milk replacer with hydrolyzed wheat gluten providing a portion of the protein performed equally compared to calves receiving an all milk protein milk replacer. Calves receiving the wheat milk replacer actually consumed more starter and gained more weight through weaning.
Similar calf performance results have been demonstrated when animal plasma is incorporated into calf milk replacers (Merrick’s, Inc. 1992-1994).
Wheat and Animal Plasma Combination. Additional research was conducted in 2006/2007 at Merrick’s Calf Research Facility to evaluate the effects on calf performance of incorporating both wheat protein isolate and animal plasma into a 20-20 milk replacer. Calf growth and starter intake with a 20-20 Wheat & Plasma milk replacer were shown to be equal to those achieved with a 20-20 all milk protein milk replacer. Calves receiving the Wheat & Plasma formula actually averaged 5 lb heavier at 6 weeks (weaning), 10 lb heavier at 8 weeks and consumed 14 lb more calf starter feed.
Intensive Feeding. Wheat & Animal Plasma can be used with intensive feeding programs. Research with 25-15 formulas (Merrick’s 2006) demonstrated that calves receiving 1.5 lb/day of the 25-15 Wheat & Plasma formula performed equal to calves receiving 1.5 lb/day of a 25-15 all milk protein formula.