Effects of Supplementing Concentrates Differing in Carbohydrate Composition in Veal Calf Diets: II. Rumen Development

B.J. Suárez, C.G. van Reenen, W.J.J. Gerrits, N. Stockhofe, A.M. van Vuuren, J. Dijkstra

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The objective of this experiment was to examine the effects of concentrates in feed, differing in carbohydrate source, on the rumen development of veal calves. For this purpose, 160 male Holstein Friesian x Dutch Friesian crossbred calves were used in a complete randomized block design with a 5 x 2 factorial arrangement. Dietary treatments consisted of 1) a milk replacer control, 2) a pectin-based concentrate, 3) a neutral detergent fiber-based concentrate, 4) a starch-based concentrate, and 5) a mixed concentrate (equal amounts of the concentrates in treatments 2, 3, and 4). Concentrate diets were provided as pellets in addition to a commercial milk replacer. Calves were euthanized at either 8 or 12 wk of age. Plasma acetate and ß-hydroxybutyrate (BHBA) were measured as indicators of rumen development. Empty rumen weight was determined, and wall samples were taken at slaughter. In most calves, a poorly developed rumen mucosa was observed. Coalescing rumen papillae with embedded hair, feed particles, and cell debris were found in all calves fed the concentrate diets. Calves fed concentrates had significantly heavier rumens than calves fed the control diet. In the dorsal location of the rumen, calves fed concentrate diets showed an increased ratio of mucosa to serosa length compared with calves fed the control diet, whereas in the ventral location only, calves fed the pectin and mixed diets showed larger ratios of mucosa to serosa length. Mucosa thickness and muscle thickness were greater in the ventral and dorsal locations of the rumen, respectively. In both locations, the NDF diet resulted numerically in the lowest mucosa thickness and highest muscle thickness among the concentrate treatments. At 8 wk, calves fed the concentrate diets had higher plasma acetate concentrations than calves on the control treatment. However, at 12 wk, only NDF-fed calves showed significantly higher plasma acetate concentrations. The plasma BHBA concentrations of calves at 8 wk of age fed the pectin and mixed diets were higher than those of the control diet-fed calves. At 12 wk, no differences in BHBA concentrations were observed among treatments. Results of a principal component analysis indicated that, in addition to rumen volatile fatty acid concentrations, other factors were likely to affect rumen development, and that the relationships between rumen development and individual types of volatile fatty acids present in the rumen liquor were similar. Also, variations in rumen development coincided with variations in plasma acetate and BHBA concentrations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4376-4386
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • functional development
  • blood metabolites
  • young calves
  • fatty-acids
  • growth
  • mucosa
  • forestomach
  • performance
  • acidosis
  • stomach


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