Researchers scrutinize fiber in calf starters

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The addition of low-energy roughage to textured calf starters reduced weight gain in post-weaned calves that were 30 to 60 days old. However, it may be OK for older calves if fed in limited amounts. That was the outcome of research published in the July Journal of Dairy Science.

During four trials, researchers at the Akey Nutrition and Research Center in Ohio added chopped grass hay or cottonseed hulls to textured calf starters with adequate coarseness. Roughage concentrations ranged from 2.5 percent to 15 percent of the diet. Average particle size of the starters fed was 2,000 microns. All calves were weaned at 31 to 32 days of age.

In the first three studies, feeding 5 percent to 10 percent cottonseed hulls or 2.5 percent to 5 percent hay depressed starter intake, average daily gain and efficiency in calves 30 to 60 days old. In the fourth study, the addition of 15 percent hay to textured calf starter depressed starter intake and average daily gain in calves 60 to 88 days of age. However, the addition of 5 percent roughage may be OK for older calves. In this study, it appeared to improve the efficiency of 60- to 88-day-old calves.



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