At birth, the overal digestive system is underdeveloped. From birth to about two weeks of age, the calf is a monogastric, or simple-stomached animal. The fat digestion during this period is also underdeveloped and improves with time.
In the new-born calf, saliva is initially the only source of the enzyme lipase used for fat digestion. This enzyme mainly splits fats with short- and medium-chain fatty acids. The lipases of the pancreas are formed from the second week of life and are better able to split long-chain fatty acids. Next to enzymes, bile salts (secreted by the liver) stimulate fat digestion, by emulsifying and micelle formation. This enables the fatty acids to move through the digestive system. The digestive efficiency and therefore energetic value of fat differ greatly between fat sources and is the result of their chemical structure. The fat digestibility depends on the fatty acid chain length, the ratio between saturated and unsaturated fatty acids and free fatty acid content.
Therefore the composition of fat content in calf milk replacers for young calves is essential for the technical performance of calves.
Fat is the best energy provider for a young calf. Premium calf milk replacers contain mostly 16-20% spray dried fat. The higher the fat content, the higher the percentage of coconut oil, rich in medium-chain fatty acids should be, to assure optimal digestion.
Kalvolac contains spray-dried vegetable fat sources in the recipes of calf milk replacers. The sources are palm and coconut oil.
Trials with different ratios of palm and coconut oil in calf milk replacers showed that growth was increased for calves receiving a 60% palm and 40% coconut ratio in a calf milk replacer compared to a 100% palm, due to better digestibility. The calf milk replacer with coconut inclusion also resulted in less calves with diarrhea.
Kalvolac calf milk replacers contain a palm:coconut ratio of 60:40 as it gives the best performance in calves.