Zoologic® Milk Matrix is a line of six different milk replacers to be used alone or blended together to closely match the composition of various mother’s milk. Pet-Ag, Inc. introduced zoologic Milk Matrix in 1993. The six different milk replacer components were designed to be fed individually or combined to produce a formula that closely matched specie’s natural milk in protein, fat, lactose and solids. The components are named according to the protein and fat percentages. All of the milk components are highly digestible and may be used not only for feeding infants, but also for weaning or adult animals as an energy supplement. Weaning is often a very difficult time where proper nutrition is attempted, but not achieved. Milk Matrix can help provide the balanced nutrition. We generally recommend during weaning or adult supplementation, one-teaspoon milk powder per 10 pounds of bodyweight. The basic recommendation for hand feeding infants is to feed ten to twenty percent of the infant’s body weight per day.
For mixing instructions for the various species, we created a book entitled “Milk Matrix Formulation & Mixing Guide” This mixing guide is based upon milk compositions found in PetAg’s hand out entitled “Mother’s Milk Is Nature’s Most Perfect Food”. The mixing guide has formulas that have been computer generated based on currently published milk compositions. The mixing guide lists formulas for over140 different species. The mixing guide is currently available for $26.95 (shipping and handling included) directly from PetAg. Our goal at PetAg is to have this information available on our website (www.petag.com) during the fall of 2003.
EDITOR'S NOTE: this information is now available online at http://www.petag.com/zoologic.asp
It must be stressed that the information provided in the mixing guide is only a guideline. There are so many factors that can alter milk composition. These factors include the time frame of lactation, the health of the mother, the diet of the mother and area of inhabitance. This is why we have a technical staff available. It is quite common for captive animals to have very different milk composition than their wild counterparts. It is unfortunate, but true that the published milk values are usually from small samples and from an unknown period of lactation. Due to this limited information, adjustments to the formulas may be necessary.
The range of milk values among mammals is very wide. This range makes it impossible to meet all of the mother’s compositions without the addition of additional ingredients. The formulas that require a higher fat level than our highest fat milk component for instance many marine mammals require the addition of vegetable oil, fish oil or cream. The type of fat will depend on the species of animal being fed. For animals that require a very low lactose level, it is recommended that Lactaid® be added. For those animals with very high solids concentration (>28.0%) it will be necessary to feed a formula more dilute than the mother’s milk. Finally, there are some animals with a milk composition that the Milk Matrix formulations cannot match closely. In these cases it is best to take a formula that may be adequate and use it to pull the infant through to a stage where it can begin supplementation with weaning foods.
PetAg also has the ability to test milk samples of unknown composition. We require 50ml samples. These can be from one milking or you may save samples and continue adding to them until 50 ml is compiled. Samples must be kept frozen and shipped to us overnight on dry ice. There is no cost for this service.
The mixing guide also provides general guidelines for feeding frequencies and amounts. Blending and storage tips are also given. The various components can be blended together without water and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 months or in the freezer for up to 6 months. The shelf lives of these components vary from 1.5 to 2 years.
Because the formulas are computer generated and not all been tested, PetAg is continuing to update the mixing guide as we discover that certain formula options perform better than others. PetAg also provides an appendix that lists formulas used successfully in species without a know mother’s milk composition. It just so happens that quite a few felines are included in the appendix.
Thanks to Zoologic Milk Matrix now infant mammals can be fed milk replacers that DO closely match the species natural composition.
Many thanks to Debra A. Hoffmann, Zoologic Category Manager, PetAg, Inc. for allowing the use of this article on ExoticCatz.com.com in cooperation with the Feline Conservation Federation. This article is copyrighted 2003 by Debra A. Hoffmann, and originally appeared in the FCF Newsletter. All rights are reserved. FCF members receive a bi-monthly newsletter containing a wealth of articles like this one, and I highly recommend becoming an FCF member to learn more about exotic felines.