With a network of over 18 members and excess of 75 branches across the country Co-op Source members will be supporting farmers in their calf rearing systems on the back of having launched their new TopStart Calf Milk Replacer.

Successful rearing of calves requires proper management from day one and feeding good quality colostrum is the very starting point.

Following Animal Health Ireland’s 1-2-3 recommendation is a very useful guide along with the unrestricted access to:

• Clean water
• Fresh, palatable starter concentrate
• Fresh, good quality straw is preferable over hay as it may reduce starter concentrate intake due to its palatability.

Straw creates a ‘scratch factor’ keeping the rumen healthy and by preventing ruminal plaque from building up.

Feeding colostrum is recommended up until day three and from then a good quality calf milk replacer is the most positive step that can be taken to assist calves to reach their genetic potential.

Whole Milk versus Milk Replacer

Milk replacer offers a number of advantages over whole milk.

Performance studies show that replacement heifer calves with higher growth rates in the first eight-10 weeks of life have significantly improved first lactation yields and fertility performance.

Milk replacer supports such growth targets, while the risk of scour is also reduced as milk replacer is consistent and acidified to improve digestion and decrease the risk of scour.

Earlier weanling is also achievable as whole milk powder contains very high levels of fat and energy. This delays solid feed intake, rumen development and ultimately weanling.

Feeding antibiotic milk greatly increases the risk of development of resistant organisms and at a minimum it should not be fed to heifers.

Feeding whole milk greatly increases the risk of spreading diseases such as Johne’s disease.

Economics of Milk Replacer

Even at cash neutral the above reasons more than justify the feeding of milk replacer over whole milk. However at present there is an additional ‘cash in hand’ benefit to using milk replacer.

‘Cash in hand benefits:
  • It takes circa 250L of milk to rear a calf
  • TopStart Milk Replacer @ 27 c/l (12.5% concentration)
  • Whole Milk @ 31c/L (current price including VAT)
  • 4 cents saving @ 250 Litres = €10/calf

Top-start-3D bag (002)

What to look for in a Calf Milk Replacer Quality

  • Quality of protein: quality milk protein sources are superior to vegetable sources.
  • Protein Level: higher protein levels promote lean growth
  • Oil level: higher levels promote growth
  • Balanced vitamins and trace elements
  • Low fibre and ash levels: fibre levels above 0.15% indicate moderate to high use of vegetable proteins
  • Ash levels above 8.0 % increase the risk of scour (particularly at high mixing and feeding rates).
  • Easy to mix

Features of TopStart

  • Fixed formulations based on meeting quality standards, to produce consistent results on farm.
  • Easy-mixing powder
  • Contain Neotec 4, a blend of functional fatty acids which improves feed efficiency, growth and immunity.
  • Comprehensive supplementation with vitamins and trace elements to promote and support fast healthy growth
  • Flexible-suitable for ad-lib, computerised and once-a-day feeding systems


TopStart Milk Replacer is available in-store from all Co-Op Source members.