many years the wildlife community has waged wars about which milk formula to use
for rearing orphaned marsupial joeys.
consider that raising any joey on anything but Wombaroo is a death sentence.
is unfounded and is not backed by any scientific evidence what so ever. Illnesses
and diseases are not purely from milk formula choice.
many carers have opinions relating to this, there has never been a scientific
study to prove it, so the foundations are baseless.
milk formula's have their place in the rearing of marsupials. Each animal is totally
unique and where some may thrive on one product and not do so well on others,
it can be totally reversed in another joey.
milk formula argument is mainly nutritionally based. Some carers (incorrectly)
believe that Di-Vetelact and Biolac milk formulas don't have the nutritional requirements
for a marsupial and that raising a joey on these formula's will result in fur
loss, cataracts and other diseases.
the symptoms which are claimed as a "syndrome" go much deeper - they can be caused
by many factors including environmental, from complications received before the
animal has come into our care and are simply out of our control and husbandry
related - relating to total care regime. This is not to suggested that
a poor care regime has been followed, however some carers may choose to blame
a milk formula as it is easier than conducting a full investigation into their
care regime and maybe finding and admitting fault.
Fourth Crossing Wildlife we have raised different species of marsupial on three
of available milk formulas designed for animals, that is: Wombaroo, Biolac and
Di-Vetelact. Formula One (manufactured by Wombaroo) has not yet been used, except
in emergency situations.
Crossing Wildlife is a release site and we get to see the animals long after release.
To date there have been no nutritional complications witnessed in any of the animals,
and they were all released two years ago or more.
particular milk formulas were creating specific illnesses and diseases in hand-reared
marsupial, then the symptoms would have undoubtedly been seen in Fourth Crossing
Wildlife releases - and they haven't.
article is not written purely from the results of hand-reared joeys at Fourth
Crossing Wildlife, but from many other carers who have also had great success
with all milk formulas.
Jackson has written a comprehensive paper on marsupial milk in his book Australian
Mammals, Biology and Captive Management. The paper is titled Marsupial
Milk, Milk Formulas and a Comparison with Monotreme and Eutherian Milk.
Following is some information on milk formulas that you may consider when deciding
on which formula to give your animal. Part of Stephen Jackson's reported findings
are in this section.
when using Milk Formulas
date there is no published data on changes in milk composition in wombats.
Cows milk is not recommended for feeding marsupials as the milk has too much lactose,
which marsupials are intolerant too. Lactose is poorly digested in marsupials
and feeding cows milk results in diarrhoea and other complications, the most severe
using the Wombaroo formula it is important to follow the manufacturers recommendations
regarding mixing up the formula and the quantities offered to a joey.
Wombaroo formulas are specifically made for different age stages. <.4 (less than
point 4) is not a weaker consistency than .6 (point 6) - it is a totally different
formula. A joey at the <.4 stage will not tolerate .6 milk, even if it is watered
down. You must feed the joey the correct milk. See Wombaroo mixing instructions
for further information.
With Wombaroo you must ensure that you are giving extra water in between milk
bottles. Wombaroo is a very thick formula and little hydration is received from
the product alone. By not offering water problems may occur, like Cystitis.
Wombaroo gives better growth rate and hair quality than any other milk formula
and Di-Vetelact offers more freedom for the milk quantity offered to a joey.
is considered by many carers that Biolac and Di-Vetelact may be better products
for new time carers who haven't quite got the gist of the importance of Wombaroo
quantity offered to joeys can be increased or decreased without problem.
If using Di-Vetelact you may not need to offer water in between milk feeds. The
formula is watery and adequate hydration may be received from the milk formula
alone. Ensure that you constantly keep checking on hydration, however, and offer
As Di-Vetelact is a very watery formula it can sometimes cause diarrhoea in a
joey, especially when Formula A is being used. Adjust the mixture accordingly.
Di-Vetelact should not be mixed to a stronger consistency than Dilution B as this
may cause constipation in the joey.
If using Di-Vetelact, buying a 5kg tin direct from the manufacturer will save
you considerably. A 375g tin from stores costs around $15. Buying in bulk will
cost the equivalent of $7 to $8 for a 375g tin.
is offered by age, Biolac is offered based on a combination of age and weight
and Di-Vetelact is offered based on weight. It is important to remember however,
that the recommended quantity to offer is for a joey that is totally depended
on milk (furless or just furred). As a joey starts to eat solids the quantity
should be slowly reduced.
to CSIRO research, Biolac milk contains more lipid concentrations (higher energy)
and is closer to that of natural milk. Late lactation animals receive more "total
energy" from Biolac milk than any other formula. (CSIRO. Jackson, 2003).
is more readily digested than any another milk formula due to the ingredient galacto-oligasaccharides
(special sugars) which are similar to the sugars found in natural marsupial milk.
Therefore, using Biolac is likely to result in fewer problems such as diarrhoea.
(CSIRO. Jackson, 2003).
to always transition between milk formula's. This includes when moving through
the different composition formulas of Biolac and Wombaroo, or if swapping a joey
from one product to another.