Interaction between the physical form of the starter feed and straw provision on growth performance of Holstein calves.J Dairy Sci 2015; 98(2):1101-9JD
Two experiments were conducted to assess the effect of physical form of a starter feed with or without straw supplementation on growth performance of Holstein calves. In experiment 1, a total of 32 calves were randomly assigned at 7 d of age to texturized starter feed (containing rolled barley, corn, and oats) without straw, texturized starter feed with chopped straw, and pelleted starter feed with chopped straw. All calves were offered 4 L of pasteurized whole milk twice daily from 7 to 35 d of age, 2 L of milk twice daily from 36 to 42 d of age, and 2 L of milk from 43 to 49 d of age. Animals were weaned at 50 d of age, and the study finished when calves were 63 d old. In experiment 2, a total of 60 calves (8 d of age) were randomly assigned to texturized starter feed (containing whole corn) without straw, pelleted starter feed without straw, and pelleted starter feed with chopped straw. All calves were offered the same milk replacer (MR; 23% crude protein and 19.5 fat) at 11% dry matter concentration, 4 L/d of MR until 14 d of age, 6 L/d of MR from 14 to 37 d, 3 L/d of MR from 38 to 44 d, and 1.5 L/d of MR from 45 to 52 d of age. The experiment finished when calves were 58 d old (1 wk after weaning). Rumen liquid pH was measured after weaning. In both studies, calves were individually housed in pens on sawdust bedding and starter feed and chopped straw were offered free choice in separate buckets. In experiment 1, starter feed and straw intake and growth did not differ among treatments. However, calves receiving straw showed a greater rumen pH compared with those not receiving straw. In experiment 2, pelleted started feed supplemented with straw fostered an increase in solid feed intake (as percentage of body weight) compared with a pelleted or texturized starter feed without straw supplementation. However, calves that received the texturized starter feed containing whole corn had rumen pH similar to those fed a pelleted starter feed with straw. Feeding a texturized starter feed containing rolled barley, corn, and oats (with or without straw provision) was not able to maintain rumen pH or promote growth and intake compared with offering a pelleted starter feed with chopped straw. However, when whole corn was used in the texturized starter feed, rumen pH was equivalent to that obtained with a pelleted starter feed and straw supplementation.