The impact of feeding different levels of milk replacer via automated feeders on intake and growth was assessed in calves. Heifer calves (Holstein × Jersey; n=198; 11±4 days old) were randomly allocated to low-allowance (LA; n=67; calves were fed milk replacer at 10% of initial live weight), high-allowance (HA; n=65; calves were fed milk replacer at 20% of initial live weight), and ad-libitum (ADLIB; n=66; calves were given ad libitum access to milk replacer). Pelleted calf starter was provided ad libitum and daily individual intake of milk replacer and calf starter was measured via automated feeders. Calves were gradually weaned from 69±2 days over 14 days. Average daily weight gain during pre-weaning was the highest (P<0.05) for ADLIB (0.69±0.02 kg/ day), followed by HA (0.61±0.02 kg/day) and LA (0.54±0.02 kg/day) calves. Calf starter intake was the lowest (P<0.05) in ADLIB calves followed by HA and LA calves. The ADLIB calves had the lowest (P<0.05) calf starter intake during the week after milk weaning but it did not affect the live weight of calves. In conclusion, provision of more milk promoted pre-weaning growth, and restricted milk feeding to trigger solid feed intake failed to match that growth advantage.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 78, Rotorua, 21-25, 2018
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