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Improve Dry Matter Intake

Nutritionists and dairymen alike have been trying to maximize dry matter intake of their lactating cow diet.

Wide angle background image of industrial cowshed with cows in rows eating hay, copy space

Allen, 2000 stated, “Energy intake is a primary limitation on milk yield for high producing dairy cows and is determined by net energy content of the diet and DMI. The maximal productive capacity of an animal will depend on its genetic potential and will vary over the animal’s lifetime according to its age, physiological status (e.g. lactating, pregnant), and climate. Each animal has a maximal rate at which it can utilize nutrients and metabolic fuels and unless DMI is limited by physical capacity, mechanisms must exist that balance supply with demand for nutrients.”

Allen, 2000

Dry matter intake (DMI) is determined by meal size and meal frequency that are influenced by animal and dietary factors affecting satiety and hunger. Certain feed additives and nutrients can cause changes in DMI. The interest of this publication is to explore fatty acids (FA) and their effect on DMI.

Allen, 2000 published a review on factors affecting feed intake including certain FA. Supplemental fat sometimes depresses feed intake due to effects of fat on ruminal fermentation and gut motility, acceptability of diets containing added fat, release of gut hormones, and oxidation of fat in the liver. Significant decreases in DMI were observed for Ca-PFA for 11 of 24 comparisons. In addition, Ca-PFA resulted in a numerical decrease in DMI in 22 of the 24 comparisons. Other sources of fat had less consistent effects on DMI and there were few significant decreases in DMI by added FA for each category of fat. A summary of these findings is illustrated in Table 1.

Table 1. Effects of fatty acid source on DMI in Lactating cows. (adapted from Allen, 2000).

The effects of Ca salts of PFAD (CAS) on DMI reduction was linear indicating significance when included as low as 1% of the diet DM. The data shows us that fat alone is not responsible for the reduction in DMI. The composition of FA within in a fat source appears to be the cause. Allen 2000 concluded “ Although energy utilization is more efficient for digested fat than digested carbohydrate, it is clear that addition of fat to the diet does not always result in increased net energy intake and that reduction in DMI is one of the primary reasons. 

There have been several meta-analyses regarding the effects FA on DMI depression. These results are shown in Table 2.

Table 2. Published Meta-Analyses on Fat Type and DMI. (Adapted from Chilliard 1993, Raibee 2013, Boerman and Lock 2014)

These meta-analyses all indicate that Ca salts of PFAD (CAS) cause significant reduction in DMI based on dozens of published reports. The question then becomes what physical or chemical characteristics lead to the issues with DMI depression. Palatability of fat sources has been researched by Grummer et al. 1990 as a possible factor involved in decreased DMI from fat sources. They reported that some fat sources tested reduced DMI initially, but cows became adjusted after a period of time except for one—CAS. Cows do not become accustomed to CAS presence in the diet. Some other factor is causing DMI depression with respect to CAS.

Degree of unsaturation of FA has been another potential factor involved in FA effect on DMI. DMI depression has been observed with increased degree of unsaturation. Drackley et al 1992 observed when unsaturated LCFA were infused into the abomasum, increased degree of unsaturation reduced DMI more than saturated FA. These researchers suggested that unsaturated LCFA reaching the small intestine of dairy cows affects gastrointestinal motility and DMI. That brings us to another potential mechanism involving gut hormones such as CCK and GLP-1.

Choi and Palmquist 1996 observed increases in CCK and a consequent reduction in DMI when 0, 3%, 6%, or 9% CAS was added to the diet. Fat supplementation increased post-feeding plasma cholecystokinin concentrations and linearly increased plasma pancreatic polypeptide (GLP-1) concentrations. The effects of CAS on CCK plasma concentrations are reported in Figure 1.

Figure 1.The effects of CAS on Plasma CCK, DMI, and NEL intake in lactating cows. (Adapted from Choi and Palmquist 1996)
Figure 2. Effects of specific FA on CCK in humans.

There are at least 10 hormones that activate the stomach and intestines, induce gastric secretions, regulate glucose metabolism, and influence satiety centers in the brain (Song et al 2015). Among these CCK and GLP-1 are the primary hormones affecting satiety. Administration of CCK to humans and animals reduces meal size and duration. CCK causes sensations of satiety as well as reducing gastric emptying and stimulating pancreatic enzyme secretions (Wren and Bloom 2007). When specific FA, such as palmitic and oleic acids, empty into the duodenum, CCK receptors begin sending satiety signals to the brain reducing gastric emptying which, in turn, reduces meal size and duration. This happens every time these FA enter the duodenum in sufficient quantity. The sequence of events is controlled and modulated hormonally. 

Published research work by Relling and Reynolds 2007 and Bradford et al 2008 in lactating dairy cows has shown similar results comparing EB 100 to CAS. EB 100 is a FA source containing mostly saturated FA high in stearic acid while CAS is primarily palmitic and oleic acids. CAS significantly increased CCK while EB 100 was similar to the control. Piantoni et al 2013 observed a significant increase in CCK comparing an 85% palmitic acid FA source to the control. These data suggest that FA sources high in palmitic and oleic acids increase CCK potentially leading to DMI depression, while a FA source high in stearic acid does not. These reports are shown in Table 3.

Table 3. Effects of FA source on CCK in lactating cows

These published reports show the mechanism by which specific FA such as palmitic and oleic cause increases in CCK when fed to lactating cows. This in turn may lead to depressed DMI. To further investigate this hormonally modulated effect, a meta-analysis performed by Sellers et al. 2017 compared FA sources to the control. These findings are in Table 4.

Table 4. Meta-analysis results comparing EB 100, CAS, and 85% palm product. (Adapted from Sellers et al. 2017.)

The advantage that EB 100 has over CAS and 85% Palm is improved DMI. This has multiple positive effects ranging from higher NEL intake, higher milk yield, better BCS and body weight gain throughout lactation, improved reproductive parameters from conception rates to days open, and higher value as measured by IOFC. This is a mammalian phenomenon. The appetite of humans, mice, cows, apes, pigs, etc. are all affected similarly by these specific FA. EB 100 is the consultant’s choice for improved performance from milking to breeding. Contact your Milk Specialties Global representative for more details on their Energy Booster line of products.

References available upon request.

Tryptophan: Part of Alpha-lactalbumin’s Superpower? 

Alpha-lactalbumin is the main protein fraction in human milk and the second most abundant fraction in bovine milk. By utilizing advanced filtration and processing technologies, our NutriPRO™ Alpha-lactalbumin products contain more than twice the amount of alpha-lact as a standard whey protein. With this, comes an increased level of the essential amino acid, tryptophan. The alpha-lactalbumin fraction itself provides as much as 77% more tryptophan than standard whey protein1

Read me a bedtime story. Little girl and her father on bed at home.

Tryptophan plays a key role in many metabolic functions and is a precursor to the neurotransmitter, serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine), which is critical to sleep, mood, and appetite, among many other functions. Thus, it’s no surprise that it is considered in the management of depression and sleep disorders2. Tryptophan supplementation has been reported in a recent review to decrease anxiety and increase positive mood in healthy individuals, although a reduction in aggressive feelings was not found3. The amount of tryptophan studied and shown to beneficially influence mood varies from 0.13g to 3g per day, on top of what would be consumed from a meal. This is easily achieved in small serve of alpha-enriched whey protein.  

The higher tryptophan level is likely part of the reason why alpha-lactalbumin has been shown in clinical trials to improve measures of sleep and morning wakefulness. For example, Markus et al, 2005, found that evening alpha-lactalbumin intake significantly increased plasma tryptophan levels before bedtime, and modestly but significantly​ reduced sleepiness the following morning4. They also reported improved brain-sustained attention processes, as shown by the number of errors on a cognitive test, the following morning. The differences were particularly clear in poor sleepers.​ 

More recently, the effect of alpha-lactalbumin was tested in female semi-professional rugby union players5. During 4 x one week blocks (to represent the different types of weeks the players experience), the players wore wrist actigraphy watches and had either an alpha-lac rich product or placebo every night, two hours before bedtime. Sleep onset latency was found to be significantly reduced in the alpha-lac group during the away game week and bye week (no competition game scheduled). 

With the increased level of sleep disorders and mental health challenges in the general population, many are turning to their diet to improve their overall health and wellbeing. Alpha-lactalbumin provides tryptophan alongside all the other essential amino acids as an easily digested, high quality protein.   

Lactoferrin’s Health Benefits: Immunity and Beyond 

Lactoferrin is a whey protein fraction that naturally occurs in milk in small amounts. By utilizing advanced processing methods, lactoferrin can be extracted to provide an ingredient at up to 95% purity, meaning consumers can easily experience the health benefits of this powerful bioactive protein in a small dose. While many consumers know lactoferrin for its immune boosting properties, the science suggests the benefits go much further, and provide opportunities for manufacturers to support consumers health and wellbeing goals.  

Women practicing yoga sitting on beach. Rear view of happy women in fitness clothes relaxing at the beach.

While there currently aren’t any permitted health claims on lactoferrin, there are a number of clinical trials that have shown lactoferrin promotes a healthy immune system and gut microbiome1, gut-immune axis2 and increases T cell activation3. These benefits have been shown with as small a dose as 200mg in adults, with doses up to 600mg shown to speed recovery from summer colds4. Lactoferrin was also tested in Covid patients with mild-to-moderate symptoms, with a dose of 1000mg orally and 16mg nasally showing a significant improvement in symptoms and faster time to a negative PCR test compared with both standard pharmaceutical treatment and no treatment5.  

The health benefits – and potential structure function claims – of lactoferrin extend beyond just immunity. A similar dose of just 200mg has been shown to increase antioxidant state by up to 18%2, it can play a role in eye health and has even been shown to lead to moister looking and softer feeling skin during winter months6.  

As an iron-binding protein, it’s no surprise that lactoferrin can improve iron status, with evidence in a population where iron levels are often a challenge – pregnant women. With iron supplements often causing gastrointestinal upset, lactoferrin was shown to lead to health total body iron and hemoglobin levels more effectively than iron sulfate supplementation, and without any of the side effects7.  

Lactoferrin’s benefits can also begin at the start of the gastrointestinal tract – in the mouth. A 20mg dose has been shown to improve elderly oral hygiene when consumed in a lozenge after meals8. This has been supported in other studies that have shown a similar 20mg lactoferrin dose in tablet form to reduce the level of volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) in oral cavity air compared with placebo9. VSCs play an important role in the progression of periodontal disease. 

With many published papers on lactoferrin, there is a wide array of potential structure-function claims covering a number of health areas. To learn more about our lactoferrin ingredients, please contact us or see our Product Page

Whey Protein for Blood Glucose Control

The prevalence of diabetes in 2019 was estimated to be over 9% of the global population, with projections that this will rise to over 10% by 2030 and almost 11% by 2045. These figures are also reflected in those with impaired glucose tolerance, at an estimated 7.5% of the global population and growth rates anticipated around the same (Saeedi et al, 2019).

Couple going for jog

Postprandial hyperglycemia (the increase in blood glucose after consuming a meal) is a major determinant of overall glycemic control and an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Co-ingesting protein and carbohydrates can favorably influence blood glucose response to a meal, and whey protein is particularly beneficial in this realm, hence has gained increased attention for its potential role either with a meal or as a pre-load.

While whey has been shown previously to be particularly beneficial in reducing postprandial hyperglycemia in younger adults, the question remained – is this also effective in older adults who are predisposed to type 2 diabetes?  This question was answered recently by researchers in Australia and New Zealand Oberoi et al (2022).

Ten healthy younger men (~29 years) and 10 older men (~78 years) were recruited in a randomized double-blind crossover study, in which they consumed drinks containing either 30g glucose, 30g whey protein, 30g whey protein plus 30g glucose or flavored water as a control. Blood glucose, plasma insulin and glucagon concentrations were measured for 180 min afterwards.

The results showed that co-ingestion of protein with glucose significantly reduced the increase in blood glucose concentrations compared to glucose alone in both younger and older men (see graph). Furthermore, it had a synergistic effect on increases in insulin concentration, regardless of age. Peak insulin concentrations after protein were unaffected by age.

The real-world potential application for this study was summed up in the researchers conclusion that “the ability of whey protein to reduce carbohydrate-induced postprandial hyperglycemia is retained in older men and that protein supplementation may be a useful strategy in the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes in older people.”

Furthermore, whey protein can also help maintain the body’s key metabolic tissue, skeletal muscle. This is especially important with an aging population and, given whey protein’s widespread availability and ease of use in the diet, can be easily incorporated into the diet for multiple, synergistic health benefits.


Saeedi et al. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2019;157:107843

Oberoi et al. Nutrients. 2022;14(15):3111.

Nutrition Challenges For Aging: The Impact of Protein on Satiety and Energy Intake

The process of aging causes multiple physiological, psychological and social changes that affect food choice and consumption. Advancing age alters food reward signals, reduces food craving behavior, and suppresses appetite and energy intake, all of which contribute to a condition termed the “anorexia of ageing”. Compared with younger adults, older adults are reported to consume approximately 30% less energy per day. Dietary diversity (the number of different foods or food groups consumed over a given reference period) is also attenuated with ageing, with lower consumption of protein reported in older populations. Inadequate regulation of food and protein intake increases the risk of developing conditions such as sarcopenia and osteoporosis. Therefore, protein-energy homeostasis is considered a fundamental dietary-related determinant of healthy aging.

Dietary protein requirements increase with age, attributed partly to an increase in anabolic resistance to muscle protein synthesis (MPS), which accelerates loss of skeletal muscle mass and function. Maintaining muscle mass is essential to protect against falls, which are a leading cause of injury-related mortality in older people and a consequence of anorexia of ageing.

Despite the highly satiating effects of protein, interestingly, evidence suggests that older adults exhibit a blunted satiety response to protein consumption compared with younger adults. In fact, whey protein drinks have been shown to increase short-term total daily energy and protein intake in older people, even when the protein content of the drinks is very high. Another promising strategy for promoting energy and protein consumption in later life is the fortification of foods with protein. Increasing food volume to meet energy requirements is often unachievable in older groups, therefore, increasing energy and protein density while not affecting or reducing portion size, would be beneficial. As it is frequently reported that older adults consume inadequate amounts of protein, supplementing a healthy diet with additional high-quality protein may sufficiently stimulate MPS, without adversely affecting habitual appetite and food intake. However, further studies investigating compliance with long-term protein supplementation and the effects on satiety and energy intake are warranted.    

With the global population ageing (current UN projections expect 1.5 billion people over the age of 65 by 2050), innovative strategies to support protein-energy homeostasis are essential. Adopting a co-production approach involving academia, industry, practitioners and members of the public may stimulate the design of effective nutritional interventions, which consider age-related changes in physiology, cognition and lifestyle that affect appetite and dietary needs and preferences.

Further references and reading:

Bauer, J., Biolo, G., Cederholm, T., Cesari, M., Cruz-Jentoft, A.J., Morley, J.E., Phillips, S., Sieber, C., Stehle, P., Teta, D. and Visvanathan, R., 2013. Evidence-based recommendations for optimal dietary protein intake in older people: a position paper from the PROT-AGE Study Group. Journal of the American Medical Directors association14(8), pp.542-559.

Dent, E., Hoogendijk, E.O. and Wright, O.R., 2019. New insights into the anorexia of ageing: from prevention to treatment. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care22(1), pp.44-51. 

Lonnie, M., Hooker, E., Brunstrom, J.M., Corfe, B.M., Green, M.A., Watson, A.W., Williams, E.A., Stevenson, E.J., Penson, S. and Johnstone, A.M., 2018. Protein for life: Review of optimal protein intake, sustainable dietary sources and the effect on appetite in ageing adults. Nutrients10(3), p.360.

Morley, J.E., 1997. Anorexia of aging: physiologic and pathologic. The American journal of clinical nutrition66(4), pp.760-773.

The Proteins in Milk


Milk contains two main types of proteins – casein and whey. Casein accounts for 80% of the protein in milk, while whey contributes around 20%.

Whey protein is renowned for being a staple in the diet of bodybuilders, which is no surprise given its ability to promote muscle growth and maintenance. However, it is now becoming a key part of mainstreams diets as well, given the unrivaled benefits of high-quality whey proteins.

Whey protein contains all the essential amino acids the human body needs in a form that is rapidly and easily absorbed by the body. Whey protein is particularly high in the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), especially leucine. This unique BCAA has been shown to trigger muscle protein synthesis, the process by which the body builds and generates new muscle fibers, which is key for everyone of all ages – not just those wanting to get bigger muscles.

The benefits of whey protein go beyond its ability to support muscle tissue; it has been shown to increase satiety, support weight management,manage blood glucose – both in healthy and pre-diabetic subjects – and even help endurance athletes run faster.

Casein, the main protein in milk protein concentrates and isolates, is also a great source of essential amino acids but is absorbed more slowly by the body (graph source: Boirie, Y, et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 1997). This has the benefit of supplying the body with essential amino acids over a longer period and is why casein or milk protein is often found in overnight recovery products.

Rate of Leucine Absorption From Whey or Casein


Dairy proteins have long been used in many different applications as they have a long shelf life, can be easily incorporated into products and have a neutral taste. The diversity of applications these proteins can be incorporated into is in part due to the range of ingredients available, many of which have been developed for specific products to meet consumer preferences.


Dairy proteins provide unparalleled nutritional benefits to help consumers reach their sports performance, weight management, lifestyle, and healthy aging goals. The demand for protein-rich foods and supplements continue to skyrocket, as consumers recognize the benefits of incorporating them into their diet through a variety of applications. Not all proteins are created equal, but for consumers looking for the best source of complete amino acid profiles, dairy proteins are unmatched for nutrition and versatility. Embrace the power of dairy!

Optimizing Sleep with Alpha-lactalbumin 

Alpha-lactalbumin | Man laying down in bed to rest

Sleep is a critical part of our daily routine. We spend about a third of our time doing it and it’s as essential as food and water. Getting sufficient quality and quantity of sleep impacts our day-to-day performance, as well as our long-term health.  

The amount of sleep we need and get reduces with age, from most of a newborn’s day spent with eyes closed, through around 10 hours in preschool and school age, to 7-9 hours for most adults (see figure 1). Older adults tend to need less sleep at around 7-8 hours. However, many adults are not getting their optimal amount and quality of sleep. Between our non-stop world, increasing demands on our time and increased stress and anxiety, it’s no surprise that 50-70million Americans are reported to have sleep or wakefulness disorders (NIH, 2023). It’s even been reported that “undiagnosed sleep apnea alone is estimated to cost the [US] Nation $150 billion annually”. Athletic populations may have a higher level of sleep disturbances due to travel, late night competitions and training commitments.  

Sleep impacts our daily functioning, including reaction time, memory, mood, and physical performance. It is also known to be strongly associated with long term health, with less than 7 hours and more than 9 hours in middle-age being correlated with dementia risk from 70 years of age (Sabia et al, 2023). The same level of under-or over-sleeping has also been reported to potentially increase the risk of metabolic syndrome in young adults aged 18-24 years old (Nutrients | Free Full-Text | The Relationship between Sleep Duration and Metabolic Syndrome Severity Scores in Emerging Adults ( This may be through the known impact of sleep on metabolic systems, including blood pressure, glucose homeostasis, and hormone regulation.  

Figure 1. Recommended hours of sleep per day by age group 

Tryptophan’s Influence on Sleep 

As an essential amino acid, tryptophan is required in the diet since the human body cannot make it. Tryptophan, one of the amino acids in the diet that can cross the blood-brain barrier, is a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the body that influences the sleep-wake cycle, mood, cognitive function and much more. This neurotransmitter is then converted into the hormone, melatonin (see figure 2). The uptake of tryptophan into the brain is also influenced by the level of other amino acids in the diet.  

Figure 2. Tryptophan’s path to enhancing melatonin

Some foods are richer in tryptophan, as highlighted below. Amongst some of the highest dietary sources is the whey protein fraction, alpha-lactalbumin.   

Figure 3. TRP per serving

Alpha-lactalbumin for enhanced sleep and overnight recovery 

Alpha-lactalbumin and tryptophan have been tested for various measures of overnight recovery, sleep quality and quantity, morning wakefulness and cognitive performance. Essentially, it’s been tested to see if it improves sleep and favorably impacts performance the following day.  

Some early work from Hartmann et al (1979) tested 250mg, 500mg or 1g tryptophan supplementation 20minutes before bedtime in those with longer sleep latencies (the time taken to fall asleep) of more than 30minutes. They found that supplementation with 250mg of tryptophan tended to reduce sleep latency and significantly increased the minutes in slow wave sleep.  

Markus et al (2005) found that evening alpha-lactalbumin intake caused a 130% increase in Trp:LNAA before bedtime, and “modestly but significantly reduced sleepiness and improved brain-sustained attention processes the following morning”. Furthermore, in poor sleepers, this was accompanied by improved behavioral performance.  

More recent work looked at whether supplementing semi-professional female rugby union players 2 hours before bed with for the duration of the season impacted any measures of sleep, including total sleep time, sleep efficiency, sleep onset latency and wake after sleep onset (Gratwicke et al, 2023). Alpha was found to reduce sleep onset latency compared to placebo, in particular during bye weeks (weeks with no competition) and during weeks of away games.  

While MacInnes et al did not see an effect of acute alpha-lactalbumin intake in elite or serious recreational cyclist on either sleep quality or performance, this may have been due to the short intervention period.  

Alpha-lactalbumin – more than just a source of tryptophan  

Alpha-lac is the second most abundant fraction in whey protein and, as we know, whey protein has an unrivalled essential and branched-chain amino acid composition, being one of the highest sources of leucine available. While alpha does provide additional leucine compared to a standard whey, this invaluable array of amino acids gives something extra special – high quality protein the muscles and body thrive on.  

While casein or milk protein is most commonly used in overnight recovery products, whey protein was recently shown to be as effective as caseinate for muscle protein synthesis when taken prior to bedtime (Trommelen et al, 2023).  

NutriPRO™ Alpha  

Milk Specialties relentless quest for optimal ingredient solutions led to the addition of alpha-lactalbumin to our portfolio. With a number of product offerings available for multiple applications, please contact us to learn more about how to utilize our ingredient expertise for your products.  


CDC, Sleep and Sleep Disorders, 2023 

Chaudhry et al. Nutrients. 2023;15(4):1046 

Gratwicke et al. Biol Sport. 2023;40(2):449-455 

Hartmann and Spinweber. J Nerv Mental Dis. 1979; 167(8) 

MacInnis et al. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2020;30(3):197-202 

Markus et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;81(5):1026-1033 

NIH, Sleep Science and Sleep Disorders, 2023 

Sabia et al. Nat Commun. 2021;12(1):2289 

Trommelen et al. Sports Med. 2023;10.1007/s40279-023-01822-3.  

Impact of Milk Protein Source on Nutrient Digestibility & Calf Performance

Defining the nutritional and functional differences between skim milk powder and whey protein concentrate and exploring the effects of these milk protein sources on nutrient digestibility and performance in calves.

Young calf in a nursery for cows in a dairy farm. Newborn animal. No peple.

Calf milk replacer (CMR) is fed to a majority of the dairy calves in the United States in place of whole milk because it is often more economical, provides convenience and consistency, and lowers risk of disease transmission from unpasteurized milk. Many CMRs are made exclusively from dairy ingredients due to the calf’s innate ability to efficiently digest, absorb, and utilize the nutrients that naturally exist in ingredients of dairy origin.

Research into products to replace whole milk began in the mid-20th century and primarily utilized casein, skim milk, and whey as protein sources. As reviewed in Kertz et al. (2017), the prevailing thought of the time was that quality of protein within a milk replacer was directly related to the ability of the milk replacer to form a clot in the abomasum, and that poor-quality CMR would not form clots in the abomasum, resulting in diarrhea and reduced calf performance. Given that CMRs formulated with dried skim milk powder (SMP) readily clot in the abomasum due to the presence of casein and CMRs formulated with whey protein concentrate (WPC) do not clot in the abomasum due to the absence of casein, one might assume that CMR formulated with SMP would result in improved health and digestibility in calves. A review by Logenbach and Heinrichs (1998) dispels this myth and states that factors other than clotting are responsible for observed differences in calf performance.

This paper defines the nutritional and functional differences between SMP and WPC and explores the effects of these milk protein sources on nutrient digestibility and performance in calves.


While both WPC and SMP originate from whole milk, they are derived through very different forms of milk processing. Dried WPC is a co-product of the cheesemaking process – liquid whey is separated from curds during the cheesemaking process and subjected to ultrafiltration and drying, resulting in various whey protein concentrates containing 34-80% crude protein. Dried SMP, in contrast, results from the separation of cream from milk for butter manufacturing – the resulting skim milk is dried to produce a 34% crude protein ingredient. A key difference among these ingredients is that SMP contains all proteins found in milk, whereas WPC does not contain casein because casein is utilized in the cheesemaking process. As a result, the amino acid profiles of whey protein and skim milk protein differ slightly.

Historically, skim milk was a prime candidate for inclusion in CMR – it was readily available and inexpensive compared to whole milk. More recently, there has been an emergence of skim milk protein use in human and sports nutrition, which has driven the cost of SMP higher and precluded use of much SMP in modern CMR in the United States. In contrast, whey was long considered a waste product with little to no value. As soon as technology allowed for efficient collection and use of whey proteins, milk replacer manufacturers were quick to adopt WPCs in CMR, and WPC is now one of the most commonly used ingredients in CMR due to its excellent nutritional value, high digestibility, and relatively low cost. Heinrichs et al. (1995) surveyed milk replacer use in the United States and reported that approximately 90% of CMRs sampled did not clot in the presence of rennet, indicating little to no casein-containing ingredient inclusion. Another 8% of CMRs sampled formed only a soft clot, indicating 5% of less of the protein in the CMR being derived from casein-containing ingredients. Only 2% of sampled CMRs formed firm clots in the presence of rennet, suggesting very little usage of casein-based ingredients such as SMP in most CMRs.


Several studies have evaluated nutrient digestibility and calf performance when feeding CMR containing WPC and/or SMP. Terosky et al. (1997) fed calves CMRs containing 0, 33, 66, or 100% of protein from either WPC or SMP through 8 weeks of age and measured calf performance and nutrient digestibility (Table 1). The authors reported no difference in bodyweight gain, average daily gain (ADG), dry matter intake (DMI) or feed efficiency with increasing WPC inclusion. Apparent digestibility also did not differ across treatments. There was also no difference in number of scour days per calf between treatments.

Table 1. Performance and nutrient digestibility in calves fed CMR containing 0,33,66 or 100% of protein as WPC or SMP, Adapted from Terosky et al., 1997.

A study conducted by Lammers et al. (1998) fed diets similar to those above in two trials until 6 weeks of age. Results are shown in Table 2. In the first trial, calves were fed CMR only, and in the second trial, calves were fed CMR plus ad libitum calf starter. When calves were fed CMR only, ADG and feed efficiency were improved with increasing WPC inclusion, and there was no difference in DMI or scour days per calf among treatments. When calves were fed CMR and calf starter, there were no differences in DMI, ADG, feed efficiency, or scour days per calf among treatments.

Table 2. Growth and performance in calves fed CMR containing 0, 33, 67 or 100% of protein as WPC or SMP, Adapted from Lammers et al., 1998.

A more recent study by Marsh and Boyd (2011) reported no difference in weaning weight, 12 week weight, coat bloom score, ADG, DMI, or feed efficiency when Holstein bull calves were fed CMR containing protein from either SMP or WPC. Finally, Petit et al. (1988) sought to determine if clotting ability of CMR affected nutrient digestibility. Calves were fed either a control CMR containing SMP, or the control CMR with added oxalate, an anti-clotting factor that does not denature milk proteins. As shown in Table 3, there was no difference in dry matter, protein, or fat digestibility when calves were fed identical CMR that clotted or did not clot, disproving the notion that CMR quality was linked to ability of CMR to form a clot in the abomasum.

Table 3. Dry matter protein, and fat digestibility in calves fed either clotting or non-clotting CMR containing SMP

Taken as a whole, these data suggest that WPC provides similar digestibility and calf performance to SMP, and that ability of protein to clot in the abomasum is not indicative of nutrient digestibility.


While casein-containing ingredients such as skim milk were first on the scene in CMR formulation due to low cost and high availability, they have all but been replaced with more cost-effective whey based protein sources such as WPC. Despite differences in ability of these protein sources to form clots in the abomasum, substituting WPC for SMP has little to no impact on calf performance – nutrient digestibility, intake, calf growth, and feed efficiency are maintained. Whey-based protein sources such as WPC are a cost-effective, ideal ingredient for inclusion in CMR.

Upcycling Whey is a Win-Win

Supporting Small to Medium Sized Cheesemakers 

As the demand for artisanal and specialty cheeses continues to rise, so does the need for supporting small to medium-sized cheesemakers. These cheesemakers often face the challenge of what to do with the whey, a co-product of the cheese-making process. Whey is a valuable dairy ingredient that can be used in a variety of ways, but many cheesemakers struggle to find a cost-effective way to process and utilize it. That’s where dairy ingredient processors can help.

Dairy ingredient processors are companies that specialize in processing whey and other dairy co-products into usable ingredients for the food industry. They offer a range of services, including whey protein concentrate production, lactose processing, and whey permeate production. By partnering with these processors, small to medium-sized cheesemakers can upcycle their whey into a valuable asset, rather than a waste product.

One of the main benefits of working with a dairy ingredient processor is that they can provide a home for the cheesemaker’s whey. Instead of disposing of the whey, which can be costly and environmentally harmful, the processor can take it off the cheesemaker’s hands and turn it into a useful ingredient. This not only helps the cheesemaker save money on waste disposal costs but also reduces their environmental impact.

Worker separating curd from whey in tank at cheese factory, closeup

Upcycling Co-product of Cheesemaking

If a dairy processor did not take the whey, the cheesemaker would need to find another way to dispose of it. Whey contains nutrients and other substances that can be harmful to the environment if not properly handled. Some cheesemakers may dispose of whey in landfills, which can have negative environmental impacts such as methane emissions and leachate contamination. In addition to environmental concerns, disposing of whey can also be costly for cheesemakers. They may need to pay for transportation and disposal fees, which can add up over time.

Overall, not taking the whey could lead to negative environmental impacts and increased costs for cheesemakers. That’s why partnering with a dairy ingredient processor can be a beneficial solution for both the cheesemaker and the environment. The processor can take the whey off the cheesemaker’s hands and upcycle it into a valuable ingredient, reducing waste and providing a return for the cheesemaker.

Partnering with Cheesemakers

Dairy processors can work with cheesemakers to co-invest in whey processing equipment, which can be located on-site at the cheesemaking facility or at a central processing location. By investing in equipment that can condense and dry whey, cheesemakers can reduce the volume and weight of the product, making it more cost-effective to transport and in the end take more trucks off the road.

In addition, condensing the whey can also make it easier for cheesemakers and dairy processors to store and use the product. The condensed whey can be stored in a smaller space and has a longer shelf life than raw whey.

Overall, partnering and co-investing in whey processing equipment can have multiple benefits for cheesemakers and dairy processors. It can help reduce transportation costs, greenhouse gas emissions, and improve the efficiency of whey utilization. By working together, cheesemakers and dairy processors can create a more sustainable and profitable future for the industry.


In conclusion, partnering with a dairy ingredient processor can be a win-win situation for small to medium-sized cheesemakers. By providing a home and return for whey, processors can help cheesemakers turn a waste product into a valuable asset. As the demand for specialty and artisanal cheeses continues to grow, it’s important to support these small and medium-sized producers, and dairy ingredient processors can play a vital role in helping them succeed.

RPMet: New Methionine Supplement For Dairy Cows

“This product is backed by university research, and we believe it will perform as good or better than anything on the market.” 

David Lenzmeier, CEO of Milk Specialties Global

After more than two years of research and development, Milk Specialties Global (MSG) is launching RPMet, a new rumen protected methionine supplement for dairy cows. RPMet increases milk protein yields in dairy cows by delivering high levels of the amino acid methionine into a dairy cow’s small intestine. Performance tests for RPMet were conducted by the University of New Hampshire and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, with more university-led studies being planned in the future. “We believe in creating more value up and down the dairy supply chain. There is a lot of consumer demand for products with dairy protein and RPMet helps farmers capture more of that value in their milk check by increasing their milk protein output,” says David Lenzmeier, CEO of Milk Specialties Global. “This product is backed by university research, and we believe it will perform as good or better than anything on the market.” RPMet uses a unique polymer-based coating that ensures high levels of metabolizable methionine. RPMet will be available for distribution later this year.

“We set out to make the best performing rumen protected methionine supplement on the market, collaborating with experts in product development and amino acid nutrition,” says Mark Scott, Director of Animal Nutrition Research and Development for MSG. “We believe RPMet will deliver adequate levels of metabolizable methionine to meet the need of the modern dairy cow.” Milk Specialties Global has been providing nutritional solutions to dairy farmers for nearly 80 years. Founded as a milk replacer manufacturer in the 1940s, MSG continues to be a leading global supplier of milk replacer. The company also manufactures to Energy Booster line of rumen bypass fat products, fed to millions of dairy cows around the globe over the past 30 years. 

For follow up questions, please contact Ben Kroeplin at