Calf starter technology was discussed at the 2011 Dairy Calf and Heifer Association Conference. In controlled research studies involving calves on starter, it was found that:
- Calf average daily gain (ADG) was increased linearly as starter intake increased, and the presence of fine particles in starters reduces starter intake and ADG. (Lassiter et al., 1955; Gardner, 1967; Kertz et al., 1979; Bateman et al., 2009).
- Good calf starter intake could allow for earlier weaning and reduce extra costs of extending the liquid feeding period.
- Several trials over the years have compared textured versus pelleted starters, and in those that had identical ingredient and nutrient compositions, no differences were observed in calf performance. (Bateman et al.(2009); Doering et al. (2010))