Hay intake improves performance and rumen development of calves fed higher quantities of milk.
Research to date has suggested that access to forage before weaning can limit rumen development in calves, but no research has yet addressed the role of forage for calves fed higher quantities of milk. This study compared performance and rumen development of calves provided high volumes (equivalent to approximately 20% of calf birth weight) of milk with and without access to hay. At d 3 of age, individually housed calves were randomly assigned to treatment (either ad libitum access to chopped grass hay or no forage; n=15 calves per treatment, 10 heifers, and 5 bulls). All calves were provided ad libitum access to water and starter throughout the study. All calves were offered 8L of milk/d from a nipple bottle from d 3 to 35, 4 L/d from d 36 to 53, and 2L/d until weaning at d 56. Solid feed intake and growth parameters were monitored from d 3 to 70. At d 70, males from both treatments were slaughtered to measure rumen development parameters. Overall dry matter (DM) intake from solid feed did not differ between treatments before wk 5. However, during wk 6 to 10, calves fed forage consumed more total DM (starter plus hay) than did calves fed no forage. Hip and wither height, heart girth, and body barrel at d 3, 56, and 70 did not differ between treatments. Reticulorumen weight was heavier in calves fed hay versus those fed only starter (12.77±1.29 vs. 7.99±0.69 kg with digesta; 1.89±0.05 vs.1.60±0.09 kg without digesta). Body weight without digesta was similar in calves fed forage or no forage. Mean rumen pH was higher in calves fed hay compared with those fed no forage (5.49±0.08 vs. 5.06±0.04). In conclusion, provision of chopped hay to calves fed high volumes of milk can promote solid feed DM intake and rumen development without affecting BW gain. Copyright © 2011 American Dairy Science Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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