Thursday, October 10, 2013

What happens when you feed milk more frequently in an accelerated feeding program for dairy calves?
 
The basic study design was to feed milk at the same rate to calves with three different feeding frequencies - twice, three time and four times a day. The feeding rates started at 4 qts/day for 14days, 7 qts/day for days 15-21 and 8 qts/day for days 22 up to 1 week before weaning at which time calves received 4 qts/day once a day for a week.
So, remember that all the calves received the same amount of milk in this accelerated or intensive feeding program. Only thing that varied was the frequency of feeding. 
 
No differences in calf health were reported. Starter intake was reported to be the same regardless of milk feeding frequency.

Rates of gain were by frequency of milk feeding:

2X = 730g or 1.6pounds/day   (56day total = 90.0 pounds gain)
3X = 760g or 1.67pounds/day  (56day total = 93.7 pounds gain)
4X = 790g or 1.74pounds/day  (56day total = 97.4 pounds gain)

All of these are very respectable rates of gain. A tough question is the cost effectiveness of 4X vs 2X feeding. What was the extra labor cost of 4X vs. 2X? What value do we assign to the extra 7 pounds of body weight at the end of the milk feeding program?

Any ideas from BLOG readers? 

McCullough, S. A. and Others, "Effect of milk feeding frequency and weaning age on growth and intake of dairy calves" JDS 91:E-Suppl, p221, #256 2013

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