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The effects of two feedings of colostrum on the pre-weaning average daily gain of Holstein heifer calves.

Q. Zheng



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The effects of two feedings of colostrum on the pre-weaning average daily gain of Holstein heifer calves.
Q. Zheng*, M. Hayes, F. Leal-Yepes. Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Ithaca, NY.

Colostrum contains high concentrations of non-nutritive bioactive factors that may contribute to the healthy development of calves' gastrointestinal tract after reduced permeability to immunoglobulins, leading to their better growth. The main objective of our study was to evaluate the effect of providing an additional feeding of high quality of colostrum, corresponding to IgG ≥50mg/mL; a Brix value of ≥22.0%, 12—16 h after the first feeding on the pre-weaning average daily gain (ADG) of Holstein dairy heifers. The study was conducted from August 2019 to February 2020. Singleton Holstein heifer calves (n = 164) born unassisted with a median birth weight of 38.3kg (range: 31.7—52.6kg) that had received an initial feeding of 4L of colostrum with a median Brix of 25.4% (range: 22.0— 5.8%) within 2 h of life were selected. Calves were then randomly enrolled in blocks to either the control or treatment. The control received 3L of acidified pasteurized whole milk (Brix range: 6.1—13%), and the treatment received 3L of colostrum with a median Brix median of 25.4% (range: 22.0—33.9%). All calves were group-housed, 20 calves in each pen, with free access to pasteurized acidified milk. All calves were weighed weekly until weaning around d 63. Mixed linear models were used to asses the differences in ADG, BW, and height between the treatment and control. The mean � SE of serum Brix % during the first week of life was 9.5 � 0.08 and 9.1 � 0.08 for treatment and control, respectively (P = 0.0004). The growth parameters measured are summarized in Table 1. A chi-squared test was generated for mortality differences among the groups. The mortality for the treatment and control group was 3.05% and 4.27%, respectively (P = 0.54). With the current calf management and duration of the study, the results suggested that providing an extra feeding of colostrum had no effects on the growth of Holstein heifers, however, total serum Brix is higher in the treatment group.Table 1.

ADG, kg0.680.020.680.020.94
Weaning BW, kg77.151.1277.051.110.62
Weaning height, cm86.450.4586.340.460.39

Keywords: colostrum, dairy calf management.