Marsupial Milk Replacers

Healthy Bird, PO Box 225, Willaston.  S.A.  5118
Ph. 04 1984 9192        ABN 54 112 618 417




The composition of marsupial milk undergoes both quantitative and qualitative changes as the joey develops. Wombaroo marsupial milk replacers are formulated as multi-staged products to provide balanced nutrition during all phases of joey development. The Wombaroo milk stages are related to the time that a joey has already spent in the pouch. Length of time in the pouch varies the different species of joey. To relate the pouch life of all joeys to a common time scale we introduced the concept of age factor and coded our milk replacers accordingly.

By definition all joeys at fully out of pouch age have an age factor of 1 and all joeys that are in some way confined to the pouch have an age factor less than 1. In other words a joey at fully out of pouch age has used up 100% of its pouch life while one that still lives in or visits the pouch has some proportion of its pouch life to complete. For example our age factor milk codes for kangaroos (all macropods) are as follows. Code < 0.4, which means that less than 40% of pouch life has been completed. Code 0.4, which means that 40% of pouch life has been completed. Code 0.6, which means that 60% of pouch life has been completed. Code > 0.7, which means that more than 70% of pouch life has been completed.

To determine age factor for any joey and thus the milk code to feed divide the estimated age as determined from the tables by the fully out of pouch age. We use transition milks when changing from one milk composition to the next. These graded mixtures of milk from adjacent age factors produce slow changes in milk composition and gradually introduce the joey to the next milk stage. The values for body measurements in our tables do not take into account differences due to sex or subspecies and should only be used as a guide.

There are other important aspect to rearing young animals apart from nutrition. We have not covered the management skills relating to the maintenance of body temperature, toileting, hygiene, state of hydration and weaning.  We urge those people that are uncertain about any of these areas to seek advice from their Wombaroo stockist, veterinarians or an experienced carer.  See Marsupial Hand Rearing Information or contact Healthy Bird (use contact details at top of this page) for further information.


bulletPROTEIN is a recombination of bovine milk protein fractions to produce the right proportion of caseins and whey proteins. Essential amino acids have been fortified with extra lysine, cysteine, methionine and taurine.
bulletCARBOHYDRATE is an easily digested maltodextrin made from the enzymatic digestion of starch. It is high in glucose and low in a -limit dextrin.
bulletLIPID is a mix of milk fat solids, vegetable oils and fatty acid esters prepared from fish oil. These ingredients are blended to produce the right mix of saturated, mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and include the essential omega-3 fatty acids a-linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
bulletVITAMIN and MINERAL requirements for many species are unknown. Where values are unknown we have added vitamin A, vitamin D3, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K1, thiamine, riboflavin, pyridoxine, nicotinic acid, pantothenic acid, folic acid, biotin, cyanocobalamin, choline, inositol, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, iron, zinc, manganese, copper, iodine and selenium in quantities that are acceptable by recognised animal husbandry standards.


Use Wombaroo as a complete food for rearing orphaned joeys or as supporting nutrition for debilitated or convalescing animals. Maternal milk supplies immunoglobulins throughout much of lactation, providing immunity to diseases in the joey. Success in hand rearing joeys will be improved if Impact Colostrum Replacer is added to the Wombaroo milk for up to 5 days when first coming into care. Because of the many antimicrobial properties of colostrum, Impact Colostrum Replacer provides intestinal protection to animals with poor growth rates associated with enteritis.

Wombaroo milk powders have different densities and should be weighed when preparing milk.

If weighing milk powder is not possible then one level standard tablespoon dispenses about 10g.


Milk should be warmed to about 30OC and fed using a bottle and teat. Your Wombaroo stockist can supply 120ml graduated plastic bottles and a suitable latex teat from our range of shapes

Tables of suggested feed volumes are supplied with each packet of milk replacer. The milk volumes in these tables are calculated from estimates of daily energy requirement. Energy requirement is determined using a relationship between body surface area and weight, not just body weight.

Carers are told, "Feed from 10% to 30% of body weight per day."

This simple rule eventually produces feed volumes that are wrong

bulletMilk energy and daily energy requirement determine milk feed volume
bulletMilk energy for different mammal species can range from 2 to 14kJ/ml
bulletEnergy requirement is a function of body weight 0.75. i.e. kg 0.75
bulletIncreasing body weight ten times only increases milk volume seven times
bulletIncreasing body weight decreases milk volume as percent body weight
bulletIncreasing milk energy decreases milk volume as percent body weight

Feed volume can range from 2% to 150% of body weight.

Do not concentrate Wombaroo milk replacers by introducing additional nutrients or making them up to a volume less than that stated on the label. Overfeeding may cause diarrhoea.

Young joeys suckle small volumes of milk frequently and can only cope with large, infrequent feeds as they become older. As a rule, it is preferable to feed a little often, rather than a lot infrequently.

Weigh joey regularly. Consistency in growth rate is a good measure of correct nutrition. Animals have an optimum, or ideal, growth rate that allows development to occur in a controlled fashion. A growth rate in excess of this optimum may lead to obesity and possible skeletal deformities. A sub-optimal growth rate may lead to poor development and a more disease prone animal. A continuing decline in growth rate could herald the onset of disease or indicate dehydration in small animals.


Young animals drink water when thirsty. It is important to give drinks of water during periods of hot weather. Provide joeys with small drinks of water between feeds once they begin to emerge from the pouch. Ensure drinking water is available when joey is fully out of pouch.


Once joey leaves the pouch it eats more solid food and less milk. The amount of milk to feed till fully weaned will depend on the amount and nutritional value of other food eaten. The length of time taken to wean a joey depends on the species. As a guide joey should be weaned at about 1.3 times the joeys pouch life. For example, grey kangaroo pouch life is about 310 days. So a grey kangaroo joey should be weaned at about 400 days i.e. 310 x 1.3


Wombaroo milk products come as powders and are available in pack sizes to make 1 and 5 litres.  Many are also available in pack sizes of 5kg, 10kg and 20kg.  Milk powder unopened, or stored in resealable airtight containers, is stable for 18 months if stored below 30OC.

Prepared milk may be stored frozen for up to 2 weeks. Small volumes may be stored by freezing in ice cube trays. Milk that has been thawed should be remixed before use but not refrozen.



There are 5 different types of Marsupial Milk Replacers :

which has 4 age factor coded milks (<0.4, 0.4, 0.6, >0.7)
which has 3 age factor coded milks (<0.4, 0.4, >0.6)
which has 2 age factor coded milks (<0.8, >0.8)
which has 3 age factor coded milks (Early, Mid, Late)
which has 2 age factor coded milks (<30, >30)

The WOMBAROO Milk Replacers and Food Supplements booklet, which will usually be provided by Healthy Bird with your first order, provides detailed information on how to use these products.  It provides Growth Charts for the following species:

By using the Growth Charts, it is possible to estimate the age of the joey, by using a combination of body measurements, and determine which stage of development the joey has reached.  Once this is determined, you will know which  code of Milk Replacer is required.  These charts also provide details on quantities to be fed each day.  If you need access to any of the information detailed above, contact your WOMBAROO stockist, or email us directly.

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