Short communication: Effect of calf starter on rumen pH of Holstein dairy calves at weaning.J Dairy Sci 2011; 94(11):5661-4JD
The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of feeding calf starter on rumen pH of dairy calves during weaning transition. Twenty Holstein bull calves were paired into 10 blocks by starting date of the study and body weight, and fed either milk replacer and hay (MR) or MR, hay, and a commercial texturized calf starter (MR+S) in a randomized complete block design. All calves were fed 750 g/d of milk replacer as the basal diet. Calves on MR+S treatment were also fed a calf starter ad libitum to maintain similar energy intake between calves within blocks, and MR calves were fed additional milk replacer that was equivalent to energy from calf starter intake. When MR+S calves consumed a calf starter at 680 g/d for 3 consecutive d, rumen pH of a MR+S calf and his MR counterpart was measured continuously for 3 d using a small ruminant rumen pH measurement system. Treatment did not affect minimum pH, mean pH, maximum pH, standard deviation of mean pH, and duration or area under pH 5.8, indicating that calf starter consumption did not appear to affect rumen pH. However, hay intake was negatively correlated to area under pH 5.8, with a breakpoint at 0.080 kg/d intake, suggesting hay intake might play an important role in mitigating ruminal acidosis in dairy calves during weaning transition.