Effects of milk replacer feeding rate and long-term antibiotic inclusion in milk replacer on performance and nutrient digestibility of Holstein dairy calves up to 4 months of age.

Affiliation

Nurture Research Center, Provimi, Cargill Animal Nutrition, Brookville, OH 45309. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

The objectives of this study were to evaluate calf performance and diet digestibility when feeding a milk replacer (MR; 25% crude protein, 18% fat, dry matter basis) at a moderate (MOD) and high (HI) rate, along with MOD with neomycin-oxytetracycline inclusion (1.43 each g/kg; NTMOD). Male Holstein calves (n = 48; 45 ± 1.0 kg of body weight; 3 to 4 d of age) were housed in individual pens for 56 d. All calves were initially fed 0.66 kg of dry matter from MR for the first p.m. and following a.m. feeding, then randomly assigned to 1 of 2 feeding programs: (1) 0.66 kg of dry matter/d for first 39 d divided into 2 equal a.m. and p.m. meals and 0.33 kg for 3 d fed once daily in the a.m. feeding only (MOD, NTMOD); (2) 0.85 kg of dry matter/d for the first 4 d divided into 2 equal a.m. and p.m. meals, 1.07 kg of dry matter/d for the next 31 d divided into 2 equal a.m. and p.m. meals, and 0.48 kg for 7 d fed once daily in the a.m. feeding only (HI). Calves were fed a textured starter containing whole grains (20% crude protein, 43% starch, dry matter basis). Fecal samples were collected for 5 individual calves per treatment between d 47 to 51 to estimate digestibility. Calves were moved into groups by treatment (4 calves/pen) at 56 d and fed the same starter blended with 5% hay until d 112. Data were analyzed as a completely randomized design with repeated measures when applicable using mixed models. Milk replacer dry matter intake averaged 27.4 kg for MOD and NTMOD and 40.3 kg for HI per calf. Preweaning starter intake was less for calves fed HI versus MOD. Preweaning calf BCS change was greater for calves fed HI versus MOD. Preweaning medical treatment days were fewer for calves fed NTMOD versus MOD. Postweaning starter intake was less for calves fed HI versus MOD. Postweaning average daily gain was less for calves fed NTMOD versus MOD. Over the 56-d nursery trial, calves fed HI had less starter intake than calves fed MOD. Digestibility of dry matter, organic matter, acid detergent fiber, and neutral detergent fiber were greater for calves fed MOD versus NTMOD or HI during d 47 to 51 postweaning. Additionally, digestibility of fat was greater for calves fed MOD versus HI. During d 56 to 112, hip width change was greater for calves fed MOD versus NTMOD or HI. Over 0 to 112 d, body weight gain was 100, 98, and 102 kg, whereas hip width change was 10.2, 9.0, and 9.2 cm for calves fed MOD, NTMOD, and HI, respectively. Any preweaning improvements from feeding NTMOD or HI over MOD were lost during the postweaning period, which could be partially explained by reductions in diet digestibility.