The cost of milk replacer has fallen by 16% over the last 12 months based on prices quoted to the Irish Farmers Journal as part of the annual milk replacer cost comparison.

The average cost of milk replacer this spring is €2,535/t or €50.7 per 20kg bag of milk replacer.

These prices are down from the highs of €3,003/t and €60 per 20kg bag experienced last year.

The average cost per litre of mixed milk is 31.7c/l, but there is a substantial range in prices between different products within this average from 26c/l to 38c/l.

To put the price drop in context, this time last year the average price per litre of mixed milk was 38c/l and it was 33c/l in January 2022 and 27c/l in January 2021. The above prices are based on a 12.5% solids feeding rate.

To work out how much it costs to feed a calf milk replacer, multiply the cost per litre of mixed milk replacer by however many litres the calf is going to be fed.

Typically, calves are fed 4l to 6l per day, but it probably makes more sense to look at it in terms of how many grammes of powder they are getting per day rather than how many litres, as the nutrition is in the solids, not the water element.

The typical guidelines are to feed somewhere around 500g to 700g of milk powder per calf per day depending on growth rate targets.

According to Teagasc Dairy Beef 500 guidelines, dairy beef calves should be fed 500g of powder per day for the first seven to 12 days, which is two feeds per day of 2l mixed milk per day.

This is followed on days 13 to 35 with 750g of powder per day made up of two feeds of 3l of mixed milk per day.


After day 35, calves can be fed 375g of powder per day in one 3l feed. The guidelines state that from day 49, if calves have not reached their target weight of 85kg to 90kg, then continue to feed at the same rate until they are heavy enough to wean.

According to these guidelines, between days seven and 50, calves will consume a total of 25kg of milk replacer per calf. For Friesian dairy heifers, the target weight at weaning is generally between 90kg and 100kg liveweight.

When mixing milk replacer, calculate the total amount of feed you need. For example, if you are feeding 10 calves 2l of milk you need 20l of mixed milk in total.

If the feeding rate is 15% the calves need to get 300g of powder each at each feed, or 3kg of powder for the bunch.

Because milk powder will displace water, you should reduce the amount of water used by the quantity of powder. So instead of mixing 3kg of powder into 20l of water, you should mix 3kg of powder into 17l of water to make 20l of mixed milk.

When mixing, pour the correct amount of milk powder into half the desired amount of water and mix with a whisk or other mixing device. Then add the rest of the water.

Never mix with boiling water, as this could corrupt the proteins. Only ever mix and feed with water at or below body temperature. Most milk replacer can be successfully fed cold.