Friday, October 23, 2015

What is "Normal" Calf Starter Intake?

A research team fed calves three different levels of milk replacer and measured the amount of calf starter grain consumed.

The milk feeding program was: (milk was 11.6% dry matter, 3.2 fat, 3.0 protein)

Conventional (CONV)           = 4.2 quarts daily until day 53, then 2.1 quarts for 3 days.

Step-down only (SDWN)      = 6.3 quarts until 29 days, 4.2 quarts days 30-45, 2.1 quarts on days 46-56.

Step-up, step down (SUSD)  = 6.3 quarts until day 5, 8.5 quarts days 6-14, 10.6 quarts days 7-35, 8.5 quarts days 36-42, 6.3 quarts days 43-48, 4.2 quarts days 49-52, 2.1 quarts days 53-56.

Starter intakes: (for many calf starters one pound is close to one quart volume, percent dry matter 90)

Total "As Fed"            CONV   SDWN   SUSD
(Average Pounds/Day)
Days 1-56 (preweaned)     1.2         1.0         1.6

Days 57-70 (Weaned)       4.7         4.9         4.4

Many of my clients report similar volumes of calf starter grain intake shortly after weaning - in the range of 4 to 5 pounds (quart).

I was interested in their feed efficiency for these groups. For the full 70 days of the trial the values reported were: (pounds of body weight gain/pound of dry matter intake)

CONV     = 54%     [average daily gain = 1.1 pounds/day]
SDWN    = 63%     [average daily gain = 1.4 pounds/day]
SUSD     = 64%     [average daily gain = 1.7 pounds/day]

Reference: H. Omidi-Mirzaei and Others, "Effects of the step-up/step-down and step-up milk feeding procedures on the performance, structural growth, and blood metabolites of Holstein dairy calves." Journal of Dairy Science 98:7975-7981 (2015).

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