When transitioning calves post-weaning, a grain diet can be the hero – rather than the enemy it used to be revered as. At this transition phase when the calf is still going through significant growth in structure (frame) and body weight, rumen development remains a critical priority.  It has been shown that a higher grain diet can stimulate rumen development, to which Land O’Lakes Purina Feed offers additional insights into how producers can capitalize on these findings:

  • Research shows1 that forage-based diets result in the primary production of acetic acid rather than butyric acid. (Butyrate, or butyric acid, is believed to stimulate papillae growth in the rumen as the primary substrate for energy to the rumen wall.)
  • As such, a key element to a calf’s rumen development is the ingestion of grain. The grain is necessary for sufficient volatile fatty acid (VFA) production, which results from microbial digestion and therefore supports papillae growth.1
  • During this period of time, it is critical that adequate water be fed, along with the grain, to create the correct rumen environment that will support fermentation and production of VFAs, which will in turn stimulate rumen development.2

1-Heinrichs, A.J. and K.E. Lesmeister. 2005. “Rumen Development in the Dairy Calf.” Calf and Heifer Rearing. Nottingham: Nottingham University Press. pp 53-65

2- Tamate, H., A.D. McGilliard, N.L. Jacobson, and R. Getty.1962. Effect of various dietaries on the anatomical development of the stomach in the calf. J. Dairy Sci. 45:408.