Study compares forms of calf starter

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Calves do better on texturized starter than pelleted starter — even when it was flavor-enhanced.

During a 56-day study (42 days pre-weaning and 14 days post-weaning), researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Southern Research and Outreach Center fed calves an 18-percent crude protein calf starter. Calves were offered one of the following options: 1) texturized starter, 2) a complete pellet or 3) the same complete pelleted starter supplemented with intake-enhancing ingredients of chocolate, whey or a commercial sweet flavoring.

The results show calves fed texturized starter grew 7.1 percent faster over the 56-day period than calves fed the complete pellet. They also had the best feed efficiency. Calves fed pelleted starter with the sweet flavoring performed the worst. Pre-weaning average daily gain of those calves was 11.3 percent lower than the other pelleted diets. This trend continued through the end of the 56-day study.

Here are some of the results:

  Texturized  Pellet Pellet + Chocolate Pellet + whey  Pellet + sweet flavoring 
Pre-weaning (1-42 days)          
Average daily gain, lbs 1.32 1.24 1.25 1.22 1.10
Gain/feed, lbs)   0.63 0.57 0.57 0.57 0.55
Post-weaning (43-56 days)          
Average daily gain, lbs 2.13 1.95 2.06 1.85 1.36
Gain/feed, lbs 0.46 0.41 0.42 0.42 0.36


Source: Hugh Chester-Jones,
University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center.


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