Alternative proteins reduce calf growth

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Hydrolyzed wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate in milk replacer hurt the weight gain of young calves by as much as 54 percent in three research trials published in the October 2008 issue of The Professional Animal Scientist.

In trial 1, a 20-percent protein, 20-percent fat milk replacer containing 4 percent hydrolyzed wheat gluten reduced weight gains by 15 percent, says Mark Hill, the study’s lead author and researcher at the Akey Nutrition and Research Center in Lewisburg, Ohio.

In trial 2, the researchers fed a 26-percent protein, 17-percent fat milk replacer containing 0, 6 or 12 percent hydrolyzed wheat gluten. Weight gains of the wheat-protein-fed calves were reduced by 12 to 21 percent, Hill says.

In a third trial, rice-protein-fed calves gained 12 to 54 percent less weight than calves fed no rice protein.

The study’s findings support the recommendation to avoid non-milk sources of protein in the milk replacer of young calves.

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