Effects of Feeding Acidified Milk Replacer on the Growth, Health and Behavioural Characteristics of Holstein Friesian Calves


Abstract: The objective of this study was to compare the performances of calves fed acidified milk replacer (AMR) or sweet (regular) milk replacer (SMR) at 8% of birth weight. Twenty-one calves (10 males, 11 females) were offered replacers reconstituted to 12% of dry matter over 5 weeks. In the group fed AMR, daily body weight gains of calves at the different stages of growth were comparable to those for calves fed SMR. In the preweaning period, calves offered AMR had similar dry matter intakes from starter, milk replacer and dry hay as well as total intake as those fed SMR. In the postweaning phase, total dry matter intakes of calves offered AMR and SMR were not statistically different. The overall feed efficiency ratios of AMR-fed calves were better (P < 0.05) than those of SMR-fed calves. Calf faecal consistency score (P < 0.05) and percent days with scours (P < 0.01) of calves offered AMR were significantly lower than those fed SMR for days 4 to 17. AMR-fed calves needed a longer time (P < 0.01) to consume the daily amount of replacer than SMR-fed calves. The calves fed AMR also took a significantly (P < 0.05) greater number of days to learn to drink milk replacer from an open pail without help than calves consuming SMR. In conclusion, it is suggested that the growth performance and feed efficiency characteristics of calves reared under the new feeding system with AMR were not adversely affected, but the incidence of scours of the young calves was dramatically reduced.

Keywords: Acidified milk replacer, calf feeding, weight gain, scours, calf behaviour

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