When talking about acidification it is important to clarify what type of acidification you are referring to. Fully acidified is a process done on farm to lower the final mixtures pH to approximately 4.2. This is done on farm by adding formic or citric acids to the milk or milk replacer, lowering the pH enough for the mixture to sit out for extended periods of time. However, in this GroFact, we’re going to talk about partially acidified milk replacer; a process done during manufacturing.
What does partial acidification do to milk replacer?
Partially acidified milk replacer has organic acids added to the formulation during manufacturing to lower the final mixed pH. This process will have a final pH of around 5.5, if being mixed properly. Water is closer to a neutral pH of 7. Therefore, if too much water is being added, the milk replacer will not be at the 5.5 pH, and you will be losing out on the benefits of a lower pH.
What are the benefits of a lower pH level?
The benefits of a milk mixture product at a 5.5 pH are not external but occur internally. When an animal consumes non-acidified milk replacer, the pH in their stomach rises close to a pH of 6, remains there, then slowly falls back down. This rise in pH increases bacteria’s ability to replicate, as the more neutral pH is a more favorable environment. The main reason for keeping the lower stomach pH is to help in the reduction of scours. It has been shown that animals fed partially acidified milk replacer had lower fecal scores and less days with scours.
The different pH levels between ‘sweet’ milk and partially acidified can slow down drinking speed. This is beneficial to allow the animals abomasum time to expand. When the abomasum does not have enough time and the meals are too large, milk can spill over into the rumen. When milk enters the rumen it will ferment, something we do not want to happen in our animals. In saying this, studies have shown that when animals are first introduced to partially acidified milk replacer they took longer to teach to drink. However, animals fed partially acidified milk replacer took longer to drink, but they still had the same intake as animals fed sweet milk.
How does partially acidified milk replacer affect digestion?
On top of animal health benefits, a partially acidified milk replacer with lower pH helps improve clot formation. When an animal consumes milk replacer manufactured with a skim milk base, a clot will form. This clot forms in the abomasum so that it can be slowly digested over many hours by the stomach. The lower pH in partially acidified milk replacer helps to improve digestion.
With the decrease in scours and improved digestion, animals fed partially acidified milk replacer have been shown to have improved feed efficiency. When ruminant animals are born their ability to digest milk products is at the highest and most efficient. This is the best time to get the most efficient growth out of them, helping to decrease the cost of gain.