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Pre- and post-weaning performance of calves fed milk replacer containing different sources of butyrate.

A. Kerr



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Pre- and post-weaning performance of calves fed milk replacer containing different sources of butyrate.
A. Kerr*1, P. Sudhakaran2, M. Drewery1,2. 1Grober Nutrition Cambridge, ON, Canada, 2Texas State University San Marcos, TX.

Butyric acid, a naturally occurring fatty acid in milk, is often lacking in milk replacer formulations. We evaluated the use of a proprietary encapsulated tributyrin (TB) product against sodium butyrate (NaB) in a milk replacer formulation. Pre-weaned dairy calves (n = 41) were assigned by BW and sex to 1 of 3 treatment groups: control (C, n = 14); tributyrin (TB, n = 14); or sodium butyrate (NaB, n = 13). Milk replacers were formulated to contain 26% protein, 18% fat, and equivalent amounts of butyric acid from NaB or TB (0.8%). Calves were housed in groups, fed via an automatic feeder, with a daily allowance of 9L/day (1.35 kg of dry matter) until weaning commenced at 53 d, and milk was removed at 63 d. Water and a pelleted starter feed were offered ad libitum. Calves were weighed weekly, health scored daily for the first 3 weeks, individual milk intakes and group solid feed refusals recorded daily. Data were analyzed with ANOVA. There were no differences in calf growth rates before wean, however calves fed NaB milk replacer grew significantly less (1.45 kg/day, P = 0.0225, vs. 1.70 kg/day for C and 1.83 kg/day for TB groups) 2 weeks post weaning. Observation of scours was numerically greater for NaB calves during the first week, and during the trial, this group received more treatments (P = 0.0593). Total milk powder intake did not vary between groups (P = 0.3846). Pellet intake varied between groups in that during wk 4 and 5, TB group tended to consume more pellet (wk 4: 0.74 kg C, 0.70 kg NaB, 1.05 kg TB, P = 0.0541; wk 5: 1.103 kg C, 1.19 kg NaB. 1.50 kg TB, P = 0.0941), and had significantly greater intake during wk 7 (2.79 kg C, 2.31 kg NaB, 3.53 kg TB, P = 0.0333). While on full milk allowance (d 1 — 53), calves fed the TB milk replacer had a numerical improvement on total pellet intake (9.62kg C, 8.42kg NaB, 12.04kg TB, P = 0.1235). The use of a proprietary encapsulated tributyrate in calf milk replacers may improve early solid feed intake, consequently improving performance parameters at weaning, when raising calves in a group.

Keywords: dairy calf, milk replacer, butyrate.