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The effect of pre-, pro-, and symbiotic supplementation in milk to pre-weaned Holstein heifers on body weight gain and health outcomes.

P. Lucey




The effect of pre-, pro-, and symbiotic supplementation in milk to pre-weaned Holstein heifers on body weight gain and health outcomes.
P. Lucey*1, I. Lean2, S. Aly1, H. Golder2, H. Rossow1. 1University of California-Davis Davis, CA, 2Scibus Camdem, NSW, Australia.

The objective of this trial was to evaluate the effectiveness of pro, pre and symbiotic supplementation on average daily weight gain (ADG), diarrhea and odds of pneumonia treatment with an antibiotic in pre-weaned dairy heifer calves. A total of 1,801 healthy Holstein heifer calves from a large California dairy were enrolled at 4 — 12 h of age until weaning at approximately 60 d of age. Calves were block-randomized based on birth order on a repeating random order of all possible orderings of the 4 treatments: 1) control, 2) enzymatically hydrolyzed yeast product (pre), 3) Bacillus subtilis (pro), 4) combination of both products (symbiotic), which were administered in milk twice daily from enrollment until weaning. Serum total protein at enrollment and BW at 7, 42 and 56 d of age were measured. Fecal consistency was assessed daily on a scoring system of 1 −3, for the entire pre-weaned period. Linear regression showed that symbiotic treated calves had 20 g increased ADG compared with control calves for overall BW gain (7 — 56 d) (P = 0.042), controlled by calf location in farm, month of enrollment and pneumonia incidence. For late BW gain (42 — 56 d), prebiotic treated calves had 84 g increased ADG (P = 0.007) and symbiotic treated calves had 79 g increased ADG (P = 0.012) compared with control calves, controlled by month of enrollment. Linear regression showed no difference in the length of the first diarrhea episode per calf by treatment. Cox regression showed no difference in hazard of diarrhea compared with control calves. Logistic regression showed no difference in the odds of calves experiencing pneumonia. Although no effects were seen on diarrhea length or pneumonia incidence, superior BW gain in the late pre-weaned period may increase health outcomes of calves across the weaning process.

Keywords: calf, probiotic, prebiotic.

Biography: Dr. Padraig Lucey graduated from University College Dublin, Ireland in 2016 with his veterinary degree. After a short time in livestock practice he started a combined residency and masters program at UC Davis in dairy production medicine. He completed a masters program in preventative veterinary medicine in 2019 and conducted this research in dairy calf nutrition as part of this master's thesis. His research interests include dairy heifer management, nutrition, dairy herd economics and antimicrobial resistance.