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Evaluating physically effective fiber from hay in the diet of 2- to 4-month-old Holstein calves.

K. Aragona

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06-22-2020

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Abstract:

M59
Evaluating physically effective fiber from hay in the diet of 2- to 4-month-old Holstein calves.
K. Aragona*, T. Dennis, F. Suarez, T. Hill, J. Quigley. Provimi North America Brookville, OH.

Previous research from our group indicates during the weaning transition, fiber is poorly digested. However, we have also observed limited hay inclusion optimized post-weaning growth of calves. Little is understood about the role roughage particle size plays in the diet. The objective was to evaluate the effects of hay particle size on growth, intake and digestibility in weaned calves from 2 - 4 mo of age. Male Holstein calves (n = 98; 78 ± 9.1 kg initial BW; 2 blocks of calves) were housed in groups (4 - 5 steers/pen, 6 pens/treatment). The trial was conducted December to April. All treatments were fed the same textured calf starter (CS) that contained 37% whole corn, 35% protein supplement pellet, 25% whole oats and 3% liquid molasses (as-fed basis basis) blended with: 1) no hay (NOH); 2) 5% pelleted hay (PH); 3) 5% short (≤2.5 cm) particle length hay (SH) or 4) 5% long (~12.5 cm) particle length hay (LH). Pen was the experimental unit. Data were analyzed as a completely randomized design with repeated measures when appropriate. Pre-planned contrasts of NOH vs. any hay, PH vs. SH, PH vs. LH, and SH vs. LH were evaluated. Calf BW, hip width and BCS were recorded at 0, 28 and 56 d and hip height at 0 and 56 d. Digestibility estimates were evaluated on d 28 using acid insoluble ash as a marker. Hip width change (5.0 vs. 4.7 cm; P = 0.04) and hip height change (14.0 vs. 12.3 cm; P < 0.01) were greater for calves fed any hay compared with calves fed NOH. No differences were observed in ADG when comparing NOH vs. any hay (1.12 vs. 1.14 kg/d; P = 0.69). Calves fed PH had greater ADG than calves fed LH (1.22 vs. 1.08 kg/d; P = 0.03). Intake (DM as %BW) was 3.0, 3.2, 3.0, and 2.8 for NOH, PH, SH, and LH, respectively, with PH greater than SH and LH (P < 0.05) suggesting bulkiness of the hay can limit intake and increase gut fill in young calves. Digestibility of acid (43.6 vs. 34.2%; P = 0.01) and neutral detergent fiber (51.3 vs. 43.3%; P < 0.01) were greater for calves fed any hay vs. NOH, respectively. Small amounts of processed hay should be included in the diet of weaned calves 2 - 4 mo of age, but particle length may limit DM intake.

Keywords: calf, weaned, hay particle size.