Bananas for bananas

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A secret weapon to keeping calves healthy at Mar Reyz Ditzy dairy in Monticello, Wis., is bananas.

“At the first sign of any health issue, our calves get bananas and raw eggs,” says Marie Ditzenberger, dairy owner. Bananas are an economical and pure source of potassium and give the calves a real boost. Raw eggs are fed because they are a pure source of protein.

This dairy has been feeding bananas and raw eggs for the better part of 10 years. This practice has contributed to the overall health of their Jersey calves and helped them maintain a low death loss. Ditzenberger says  they have never had an issue with salmonella from the eggs.

Ditzenberger says they turn to the bananas and eggs to give the calf’s immune system a boost.

Bananas that are ripe and squishy, the ones normally used for baking, are fed to the calves. She says the calves love them. “Once they get a taste, watch out.”

Editor’s note: Please note that feeding raw eggs to calves, as suggested in this article, is not based upon peer-reviewed research. While it is acknowledged that eggs are high in protein of very high quality, some proteins are not well utilized by the calf. This URL ( cites one of Jim Quigley’s Calf Notes that addresses egg proteins in milk replacer.  It’s documented that raw eggs contin factors which bind biotin. As noted in the article there is also a risk of Salmonella. Although eggs sold in the food chain are undoubtedly free of Salmonella, there certainly is a risk. This practice may “work” for this farm, but there’s undoubtedly other practices which are more reliable and pose less risk, say industry experts.

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Dr. Mauck    
Sullivan, IL  |  February, 14, 2011 at 04:27 PM

Feeding raw eggs is a bad idea. The risk of infection in a stessed, immunocompromised calf is a real issue. Egg protein is great, but only from a properly processed form. There are egg protein supplements available. The binding of biotin is an issue over a period of time from raw eggs, but a couple of days is not going to make a difference. Bananas are fine, but not really all that high in potassium if that's what you're shooting for. Acorn squash is much higher. So...I really think these calves are doing better just because of the TLC, not the bananas and eggs.

Dr. Mauck    
Sullivan, IL  |  February, 14, 2011 at 04:31 PM

Sorry, I meant stressed, immunocompromised calf. I'm a veterinarian, not a stenographer.

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