Substituting corn silage with reconstituted forage or nonforage fiber sources in the starter feed diets of Holstein calves: Effects on intake, meal pattern, sorting, and health.


Department of Animal Science, School of Agriculture, Shiraz University, Shiraz 71441-65186, Iran. Electronic address: [Email]


We examined the effect of replacing corn silage (CS) with reconstituted alfalfa hay (RAH) or reconstituted beet pulp (RBP) in the starter diets on feeding behavior, sorting, and health criteria using 54 neonatal female Holstein calves that were assigned randomly to 3 groups receiving starter diets containing CS (10% on a dry matter basis), RAH, or RBP. The starter diets had the same nutrient composition and moisture level but differed in particle size distribution. Calves fed CS tended to have a lower intermeal interval compared with calves fed RAH before weaning; however, meal frequency and duration, eating rate, and meal size were not affected by treatment before and after weaning, which resulted in no changes in feed intake and time spent eating. Rumination frequency was higher for calves fed CS than for calves fed RAH or RBP after weaning. Feeding RBP decreased rumination duration compared with CS and RAH after weaning; however, calves fed RBP had a higher rumination bout interval compared with calves fed CS. Calves fed CS spent more time ruminating compared with calves fed RAH or RBP after weaning. Feeding CS tended to decrease and decreased time devoted to standing and lying, respectively, compared with calves fed RBP; however, calves fed RBP tended to spend more time on nonnutritive oral behaviors compared with calves fed RAH. Calves fed CS sorted against particles retained on the 8-mm sieve of the Penn State Particle Separator (PSPS) and for particles retained on the 1.18-mm sieve of the PSPS. Feeding RAH increased sorting for particles retained on the 8- and 1.18-mm sieves of the PSPS. Calves fed RBP sorted only for particles retained on the 1.18-mm sieve of the PSPS. Calves fed RBP tended to be more susceptible to developing pneumonia compared with calves fed CS or RAH; however, frequency and duration of diarrhea and pneumonia or number of days needed to medicate the diseases were unchanged across treatment groups. Initial (d 3) blood total protein concentration was similar (6.51 g/dL) across treatment groups. Overall, replacing CS with RAH or RBP did not affect time devoted to eating and feed intake due to no significant changes in meal size or intermeal interval before and after weaning. Calves showed feed sorting at the extent to which they balanced intake of nutrients and met their nutritional needs. Calves in general were healthy; therefore, CS, RAH, or RBP can be used interchangeably based on availability and competitive feed price.


beet pulp,calf nutrition,diarrhea and pneumonia,feeding behavior,reconstitution,