Effects of early rumen development and solid feed composition on growth performance and abomasal health in veal calves.

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Abstract

The experiment was designed to study the importance of early rumen development and of the composition of solid feed intake on growth performance and abomasal health in milk-fed veal calves. One hundred and six Holstein-Friesian male calves were included in the experiment, and studied during 2 successive 12-wk periods (period 1 and period 2). In a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement, effects of partially replacing milk replacer by solid feed during period 1 and partially replacing dry matter (DM) intake from maize silage and barley straw by concentrate during period 2 were tested. Solid feed during period 1 consisted of maize silage, barley straw, and concentrate (25:25:50 on a DM basis). Solid feed during period 2 consisted of maize silage and barley straw (50:50 ratio on DM basis) for the nonconcentrate groups, and maize silage, barley straw and concentrates (25:25:50 on a DM basis) for the concentrate groups. At the end of period 1 (n = 16) and at the end of period 2 (n = 90), parameters of animal performance, rumen development, rumen fermentation, ruminal drinking, and abomasal damage were examined. Partially replacing milk replacer by solid feed during period 1 resulted in early rumen development (ERD) at the end of period 1, characterized by increased rumen weight, and an increased epithelial and absorptive surface area. Both ERD and partially replacing roughage by concentrates in period 2 increased the rumen development score at the end of period 2. Although ERD calves consumed more solid feed and less milk replacer during period 1 and 2 than non-ERD calves, carcass weight gains at 25 wk were identical, and utilization of the solid feed provided appeared similar to that of milk replacer. Partially replacing roughage by concentrates in period 2 increased dressing percentage and warm carcass weight. Plaque formation at the rumen mucosa was unaffected by ERD or partially replacing roughage by concentrates and generally low in all calves. The prevalence of large scars in the abomasum in ERD calves was decreased compared with non-ERD calves. This may indicate that ERD provided protection against abomasal lesions. In conclusion, early compared with late rumen development improves feed utilization and may be beneficial for abomasal health
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3190-3199
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Volume95
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords

  • carbohydrate-composition
  • animal performance
  • calf diets
  • concentrate
  • milk
  • provision
  • mucosa
  • fermentation
  • frequency
  • drinking

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