The addition of yeast culture to calf starter may help improve calf growth, according to research from Penn State University.

During the study, researchers added a yeast culture to calf starter at the rate of 1 percent or 2 percent of diet dry matter. A control group of calves received no yeast culture.

Average daily gain improved 15.6 percent in calves fed the calf starter supplemented with 2 percent yeast culture versus the control calves. Those calves also tended to gain more weight per day than calves fed a 1-percent yeast culture. As a result, the 2-percent-yeast treatment group tended to weigh more than both of the other groups at weaning, which occurred at 35 days of age.

Although yeast culture may have played a role, the increased weight gain observed in the calves fed 2-percent yeast culture also may be due to higher starter consumption by these calves.

In addition to these findings, the researchers also noted a slight improvement in rumen development in calves fed the 2-percent yeast culture. Their findings appeared in the June Journal of Dairy Science.