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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Animal Nutrition

The effect of restricted milk feeding through conventional or step-down methods with or without forage provision in starter feed on performance of Holstein bull calves1


This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 93 No. 8, p. 3979-3989
    Received: Dec 30, 2014
    Accepted: May 21, 2015
    Published: July 10, 2015

    2 Corresponding author(s):

  1. D. Daneshvar*,
  2. M. Khorvash*,
  3. E. Ghasemi*,
  4. A. H. Mahdavi*,
  5. B. Moshiri,
  6. M. Mirzaei,
  7. A. Pezeshki§ and
  8. M. H. Ghaffari 2*
  1. * Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture, Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan 84156-83111, Iran
     Ghiam Dairy Complex, Isfahan, Iran
     Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Arak University, 38156-8-8349 Arak, Iran
    § Department of Production Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Gastrointestinal Research Group, Calvin, Phoebe and Joan Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada


The objective of the current study was to examine whether step-down (STP) milk feeding method together with forage provision would improve performance, rumen fermentation, nutrient digestibility, blood metabolites, and structural growth of calves. Holstein bull calves (n = 40) were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 treatments in a completely randomized design with a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement. Treatments were 1) conventional (COV) milk feeding without forage provision (COV-NF), 2) COV milk feeding with forage provision, 3) STP milk feeding without forage provision, and 4) STP milk feeding with forage provision. Calves in the COV method (n = 20) received 5.5 L/d milk until d 56 of age followed by 2 L/d milk from d 56 to 59 of age. Calves in the STP method (n = 20) received 7 L/d milk until d 35, 4 L/d milk from d 35 to 48, and 2 L/d milk from d 50 to 59 of age. All the calves received the starter ration from d 3 of the study until d 74 of age. Forage-supplemented calves (n = 10/milk feeding method) received 15% alfalfa hay mixed with finely ground starter as a total mixed ration. All calves were weaned on d 60 of age and remained in the study until d 74. Regardless of the milk feeding method, the final BW (92.54 vs. 83.14 kg/d), starter intake (0.90 vs. 0.65 kg/d), total DMI (1.43 vs. 1.17 kg/d), and ADG (0.73 vs. 0.60 kg/d) were greater (P < 0.01) in forage-supplemented calves than those that received no forage during the preweaning, postweaning, and overall periods. Milk feeding method had no effect on ruminal pH, total VFA, acetate, or acetate:propionate ratio as well as body measurements. Ruminal pH and the molar proportions of acetate were greater (P < 0.05) in the forage-supplemented calves than those that received no forage during the pre- and postweaning periods. Regardless of forage provision, STP methods increased (P < 0.05) the postweaning numbers of monocytes and lymphocytes. Overall, there was no interaction between milk feeding methods and forage provision with respect to BW, DMI, G:F, apparent nutrient digestibility (DM, OM, and CP), and body measurements. The interaction of milk feeding method and forage provision was significant for the rumen concentration of butyrate (P < 0.05), with the highest concentration for the COV-NF treatment on d 35 of the study. In conclusion, independent of the milk feeding method, inclusion of 15% alfalfa hay in starter diets enhances the performance of dairy calves.

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