Influence of starter protein content on growth of dairy calves in an enhanced early nutrition program1

J. A. Stamey, N. A. Janovick, A. F. Kertz, J. K. Drackley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Our objectives were to determine the effect of starter crude protein (CP) content on growth of Holstein calves from birth to 10 wk of age in an enhanced early nutrition program, and to compare the enhanced program to a conventional milk replacer program. Calves (64 female, 25 male) were assigned to 3 treatments in a randomized block design: 1) conventional milk replacer (20% CP, 20% fat) plus conventional starter [19.6% CP, dry matter (DM) basis], 2) enhanced milk replacer (28.5% CP, 15% fat) plus conventional starter, and 3) enhanced milk replacer plus high-CP starter (25.5% CP, DM basis). Calves began treatments (n = 29, 31, and 29 for treatments 1 to 3) at 3 d of age. Conventional milk replacer (12.5% solids) was fed at 1.25% of birth body weight (BW) as DM daily in 2 feedings from wk 1 to 5 and at 0.625% of birth BW once daily during wk 6. Enhanced milk replacer (15% solids) was fed at 1.5% of BW as DM during wk 1 and 2% of BW as DM during wk 2 to 5, divided into 2 daily feedings. During wk 6, enhanced milk replacer was fed at 1% of BW as DM once daily. Calves were weaned at d 42. Starter was available for ad libitum intake starting on d 3. Starter intake was greater for calves fed conventional milk replacer. For calves fed enhanced milk replacer, starter intake tended to be greater for calves fed enhanced starter. During the weaning period, enhanced starter promoted greater starter DM intake than the conventional starter. Over the 10-wk study, the average daily gain of BW (0.64, 0.74, and 0.80. kg/d) was greater for calves fed enhanced milk replacer with either starter and, for calves fed enhanced milk replacer, tended to be greater for calves fed high-CP starter. Rates of change in withers height, body length, and heart girth were greater for calves fed enhanced milk replacer but did not differ between starter CP concentrations. The postweaning BW for enhanced milk replacer treatments was greater for calves receiving the enhanced starter at wk 8 (73.7, 81.3, and 85.8. kg) and wk 10 (88.0, 94.9, and 99.9. kg). Starter CP content did not affect height, length, or heart girth within enhanced milk replacer treatments. Regression analysis showed that gain of BW during the first week postweaning (wk 7) increased with greater 3-d mean starter intake in the week before weaning. Starter with 25.5% CP (DM basis) provided modest benefits in starter intake (particularly around weaning) and growth for dairy calves in an enhanced early nutrition program compared with a conventional starter (19.6% CP).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3327-3336
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Volume95
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2012

Keywords

  • Calf
  • Growth
  • Milk replacer
  • Starter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics

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