Dairy calves benefit from higher-protein starter feed

Are you a dairy farmer? Will you be trying this out?

Dairy producers know early nutrition for young calves has far-reaching impacts, both for the long-term health and productivity of the animals and for farm profitability. With the goal of increasing not just bodyweight but also lean tissue gain, a new University of Illinois study finds enhanced milk replacer with high crude-protein dry starter feed is the winning combination.

“Calves fed more protein with the starter had less fat in their body weight gain, and more protein was devoted to the development of the gastrointestinal system, compared with the lower starter protein,” says James Drackley, a professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at Illinois and co-author on the study. “Our results say producers who are feeding calves a more aggressive amount of milk for greater rates of gain should be feeding a higher protein starter along with that.”

Producers typically feed milk replacer along with a grain-based starter feed to kick-start development of the rumen ahead of forage consumption. Yet the Journal of Dairy Science study is the first to specifically examine body composition changes, versus simple bodyweight, in response to milk replacer and high-protein starter feed.
Source - AGDaily

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