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Water delivery methods for neonatal calves during winter.

F. X. Suarez-Mena



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Water delivery methods for neonatal calves during winter.
F. X. Suarez-Mena*, T. S. Dennis, K. M. Aragona, T. M. Hill, J. D. Quigley, R. L. Schlotterbeck. Nurture Research Center, Provimi Brookville, OH.

Consumption of water by young calves is essential to health and growth, and is positively correlated with starter intake. However, water delivery in winter may be difficult due to freezing in some regions of the United States. Effects of water delivery method on calf intake and performance during winter was evaluated using Holstein male calves. Calves (n = 48; initially 44 � 4.2 kg BW; 2 to 3 d of age) were randomly assigned to 2 water delivery treatments. Water treatments were either ad libitum allowance of ambient temperature water from a bucket (BUC) or 2.84 L of hot water (~38�C) offered once daily (~1200 h) for 1 h from a bottle (BOT). Water refusals from BUC were measured once daily when starter refusals were measured. Water from BOT was weighed back after the 1 h allowance period. Water treatments were applied for the first 5 wk; then all calves received ambient temperature water ad libitum from a bucket. Calves received 681 g/d of milk replacer powder (24% CP, 18% fat DM basis) split in 2 feedings for 38 d then 340 g/d for 4 d a.m. only. Milk replacer was reconstituted to 12% solids and fed in 2.84 L bottles. Textured starter was offered ad libitum (21% CP, 41% starch DM). Calves were individually housed and bedded with straw. Calves were weighed initially and weekly thereafter. Data were analyzed as a completely randomized design with repeated measures when appropriate, with calf as the experimental unit. Average temperature during the study was 3.2�C (range from −15 to 31�C). Water intake was greater (P < 0.01) for BOT vs. BUC (1.4 vs. 0.2 � 0.15 SEM kg/d). Pre-weaning starter intake was similar for BOT vs. BUC (467 vs. 424 � 77 SEM g/d), but greater (P < 0.04) for BOT vs. BUC post-weaning (2244 vs. 2054 � 91 SEM g/d). Average daily gain was not affected by water delivery method. Bottle feeding warm water during the first 5 wk during winter increased water consumption which could reduce dehydration and simplify management. Feeding water from a bottle had a carryover effect on starter consumption post-weaning, which should be further investigated.

Keywords: water, bottle, bucket.