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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lubbock, Texas » Cropping Systems Research Laboratory » Livestock Issues Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #318068

Research Project: Improving Immunity, Health, and Well-Being in Cattle and Swine

Location: Livestock Issues Research

Title: The digestive system of 1-week old Jersey calves is well suited to digest, absorb, and incorporate protein and energy into tissue growth even when fed a high plane of milk replacer.

Author
item Liang, Yu - Texas Tech University
item Carroll, Jeffery - Jeff Carroll
item Ballou, Michael - Texas Tech University

Submitted to: Journal of Dairy Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/8/2015
Publication Date: 3/20/2016
Citation: Liang, Y., Carroll, J.A., Ballou, M.A. 2016. The digestive system of 1-week old Jersey calves is well suited to digest, absorb, and incorporate protein and energy into tissue growth even when fed a high plane of milk replacer.. Journal of Dairy Science. 99(3):1929-1937.

Interpretive Summary: The high incidences of morbidity and mortality among calves during the first few months of life continue to plague the dairy industry. Furthermore, the well-being of a calf depends largely on its health. In general, a very common pre-weaning feeding program is to restrict the quantity of milk fed to calves in order to increase the consumption of calf starter and decrease the age at weaning. However, over the past 2 decades the interest in calf feeding programs that offer greater quantities of milk or milk replacer increased. Therefore, a collaborative study was conducted with scientists from Texas Tech University and the USDA-ARS Livestock Issues Research Unit to determine if 1- week old calves were capable of digesting, absorbing and incorporating the nutrients and engery from a high plane of milk replacer nutrition into lean tissue. To test this hypotheses, an experiment was conducted that evaluated the effects of feeding either a low or high plane of milk replacer nutrition during the first week of life in Jersey calves. Data from this study indicated that healthy neonatal calves have the capability to digest and absorb the additional nutrients with a higher plane of milk replacer nutrition during the first week of postnatal life. The additional energy and amino nitrogen absorbed by calves fed the higher plane of nutrition were incorporated into lean tissue growth with a great efficiency. This information will be of interest to scientists evaluating the interactions among nutrition, immune function , growth performance, and overall well-being in young calves. The information will also be of specific interest to producers who operate dairy calf farms and/or consulting nutritionist and veterinarians working with these producers.

Technical Abstract: The objectives of the current study were to determine the digestibilities of nutrients as well as investigate the nitrogen retention of calves fed different planes of milk replacer nutrition during the first week of life. Twelve Jersey calves were blocked by body weight at birth and randomly assigned to either a high plane of nutrition (HPN) or low plane of nutrition (LPN) treatment. The HPN calves were offered 20 grams dry matter/kilogram body weight of a 28% crude protein and 20% fat milk replacer. The LPN calves were fed 14.5 grams dry matter/kilogram body weight of a 20% crude protein and 20% fat milk replacer. All calves were given 3 liters of pooled colostrum within 1 hour of birth after which they were assigned to treatments. Calves were given 1 day to adapt to their treatments, so calves were 30 to 36 hours old at the start of data collection. The study was divided into two 72- hour periods. Total collection of feces occurred over each 72- hour period and total urine was collected for the last 24 hour of each period. Peripheral blood samples were collected at the beginning and end of each period and analyzed for plasma glucose and urea nitrogen concentrations. All data are reported as HPN vs. LPN, respectively. Fecal scores were greater (P=0.004) for HPN calves during both periods; however, there was no difference in the dry matter percentage of feces (30.9 vs. 31.9 ± 0.06; P>=0.253). There were no differences (P>=0.239) between treatments in either digestible or metabolizable energy efficiencies, which averaged 92 and 83%, respectively. There was a treatment x period interaction (P=0.038) on the percentage of intake nitrogen retained, whereas calves fed the HPN had greater percentage of intake nitrogen retained during period 1 (88.0 vs. 78.7 ± 1.79%; P=0.004), but was not different from calves fed the LPN during period 2 (85.3 vs. 85.0 ± 1.79%; P=0.904). Therefore these data indicate that healthy neonatal calves have the capability to digest and absorb the additional nutrients with a higher plane of nutrition during the first week of postnatal life. The additional energy and amino nitrogen absorbed by calves fed the higher plane of nutrition were incorporated into lean tissue growth with a great efficiency.