Interaction between the physical forms of starter and forage source on growth performance and blood metabolites of Holstein dairy calves.J Dairy Sci 2018; 101(7):6074-6084JD
The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of the physical forms of starter and forage sources on feed intake, growth performance, rumen pH, and blood metabolites of dairy calves. Forty male Holstein calves (41.3 ± 3.5 kg of body weight) were used (n = 10 calves per treatment) in a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement of treatments with the factors being physical forms of starter (coarse mash and texturized) and forage source [alfalfa hay (AH) and wheat straw (WS)]. Individually housed calves were randomly assigned to 1 of the 4 dietary treatments, including (1) coarsely mashed (CM; coarse ground grains combined with a mash supplement) starter feed with AH (CM-AH), (2) coarsely mashed starter feed with WS (CM-WS), (3) texturized feed starter (TF; includes steam-flaked corn, steam-rolled barley combined with a pelleted supplement) with AH (TF-AH), and (4) TF with WS (TF-WS). Both starters had the same ingredients and nutrient compositions but differed in their physical forms. Calves were weaned on d 56 and remained in the study until d 70. All calves had free access to drinking water and the starter feeding at all times. No interaction was detected between the physical forms of starter feeds and forage source concerning starter intake, dry matter intake, metabolizable energy (ME) intake, average daily gain (ADG)/ME intake, ADG, and feed efficiency (FE). The preweaning and overall starter feed intake, dry matter intake, and ME intake were greater for calves fed TF starter diets than those fed CM starter diets. The ADG/ME intake was greater for calves fed TF starter diets than that fed CM starter. The FE was greater for calves fed TF starter diets compared with those fed CM starter during the preweaning, postweaning, and overall periods. The WS improved FE during the postweaning period compared with AH. The physical form of starter, forage source, and their interaction did not affect plasma glucose, triglycerides, and very low-density lipoprotein concentrations. Ruminal pH was greater for calves fed TF starter diets than those fed CM starter on d 30 of life. An interaction was observed between the physical forms of starter diets and forage source for β-hydroxybutyrate on d 28. These results showed that when starter diets contained similar ingredients and nutrient contents, processing calf starters to reduce the number of fine particles can improve the growth performance in dairy calves. Furthermore, the provision of WS improved FE and ADG of calves during the postweaning period.