Plasma protein and supplemental isoleucine in milk replacers for dairy calves

K. M. Vasquez, S. Y. Morrison, J. M. Campbell, J. K. Drackley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We measured the effects of milk replacers containing 0, 33, 66, or 100% of the total replaceable whey protein as bovine plasma protein (PP), without or with Ile supplementation, on the intake, growth, and health of 124 male Holstein calves for 35 d. Milk replacers were formulated to contain 18% crude protein and 20% fat, with contents of Lys and Met equalized. When fed to calves at 1.5% of body weight (dry matter basis) under thermoneutral conditions, diets were predicted to allow average daily gains of 0.55 kg/d based on metabolizable energy or 0.40 kg/d based on apparent digestible protein. Protein supply was more limiting than energy so that differences in protein use could be detected. Dry matter intakes decreased with increased PP, irrespective of Ile supplementation. Final body weights decreased linearly with increasing PP, regardless of Ile supplementation. Average daily gain tended to be affected in a quadratic manner as PP increased, either with or without Ile supplementation; average daily gain and gain-feed ratio were greatest for calves fed diets containing 33% PP and lowest for calves fed 100% PP. The analyzed Lys content in the milk replacers was variable compared with formulated values, and this may have affected growth results. However, the gain-Lys ratio was affected by an interaction of the linear effect of increasing PP with Ile supplementation: it decreased with increasing PP but was improved by supplementation with Ile for calves fed 100% PP. Body measurements decreased with increasing PP inclusion; only decreased heart girth was reversed with Ile supplementation. The lowest and highest inclusion of PP, regardless of Ile supplementation, decreased the occurrence of scours compared with the control diet (all whey protein). Calves fed the lowest and highest PP without Ile supplementation also had fewer total days of scours in the first 21 d. In addition, calves fed 100% PP without supplementation of Ile had fewer days of medication compared with the control diet. Even at the highest PP inclusion, average daily gain was minimally affected if Ile was supplemented. Growth rates, gain-feed ratio, and gain-Lys ratio were decreased at higher PP inclusion, but Ile overcame part of the reduction in gain-Lys ratio for 100% PP. Additional titration studies will have to be conducted to determine optimal PP inclusion rates, with a focus on supplementation of potentially limiting essential AA, as well as effects at higher growth rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-304
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • amino acids
  • calf
  • milk replacer
  • plasma protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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