IMPROVING THE PREWEANING PERFORMANCE OF DAIRY CALVES THROUGH SENSORY STIMULATION

CATEGORY: Feed Additives

DATE:June 2013

AUTHORS: Mereu, A., Hernández, R., Macias, J.C., Vargas, J., Candelas, M., and Ipharraguerre I.R.

BOOK/JOURNAL:Journal of Dairy Science 96 (E-Suppl.1): 510

ABSTRACT:

Fostering newborn calves to consume solid feed before weaning can contribute to ensure proper rumen development, growth, and health during this critical phase. We hypothesized that conferring the starter feed sensorial properties (smell and taste) similar to the milk replacer (MR) may allow stimulating intake of solid feed before weaning. To test this hypothesis, 50 Holstein calves (37.1 ± 4.6 kg of BW; 2.6 ± 1.5 d of age) were housed individually, paired by BW, and allotted to a control (CON) or a treatment (TRT) group (n = 25). From d 3 after birth until weaning (d 57), calves were fed 2 L of MR (20% CP, 20% CF) twice daily and a multi-particle starter (22.5% CP, 3.5% CF) for ad libitum intake. From the onset of the experiment onwards, the starter was offered either plain (CON) or treated (TRT) with an additive (1 kg/ton; Luctarom® SFS-R; Lucta S.A., Spain) developed to emulate the sensory properties of the MR. Calves had ad libitum access to water throughout the trial. Starter and MR consumption were recorded daily whereas BW and chest diameter (CD) were measured at birth and d 57. Data were analyzed as a mixed-effects model with repeated measures in time in which calf was treated as random effect and treatment, week, and their interaction were considered as fixed effects. Over the last 4 weeks of the study, TRT calves consumed progressively more starter than CON animals reaching significance (P < 0.01) the week before weaning (942 vs. 1183 g/d). As a result, mean starter consumption tended (P < 0.18) to be higher for TRT (28.4 kg/calf) than CON calves (24.4 kg/calf). Compared with CON, feeding TRT increased (P < 0.05) ADG (325 vs. 412 g/d) and CD (95.4 vs. 89.6 cm), and tended (P = 0.14) to improve FG by 25% (1.5 vs. 1.2). In conclusion, conferring the MR and starter feed similar sensory properties stimulated calves to consume more solid feed and thereby improved their rate growth until weaning.

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