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J Dairy Sci. 2007 May;90(5):2390-403.

Effect of roughage source and roughage to concentrate ratio on animal performance and rumen development in veal calves.

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Animal Nutrition Group, Wageningen UR, P.O. Box 338, 6700 AH Wageningen, The Netherlands.


Sixty-four male Holstein-Friesian x Dutch Friesian veal calves (46 +/- 3.0 kg) were used to evaluate the effect of the inclusion of different levels and sources of dietary roughage on animal performance and rumen development. Treatments consisted of 1) C100 = concentrate only; 2) C70-S30 = concentrate (70%) with straw (30%), 3) C70-G30 = concentrate (70%) with dried grass (30%), 4) C70-G15-S15 = concentrate (70%) with dried grass (15%) and straw (15%), 5) C70-CS30 = concentrate (70%) with corn silage (30%), 6) C40-CS60 = concentrate (40%) with corn silage (60%), 7) C70-CS30-AL = concentrate (70%) with corn silage (30%) ad libitum, 8) C70-G15-S15-AL = concentrate (70%) with dried grass (15%) and straw (15%) ad libitum. All dietary treatments were provided in addition to a commercial milk replacer. Concentrate was provided as pellets and roughage was chopped. The dietary treatments 1 to 6 were supplied restrictedly to a maximum of 750 g of dry matter (DM) per day, whereas treatments 7 and 8 were offered ad libitum in combination with a reduced amount of milk replacer. Calves were euthanized after 10 wk. Straw supplementation (C70-S30 vs. C70-G30 and C70-CS30) reduced DM intake, and ad libitum supply of concentrate and roughage increased DM intake. Roughage addition did not affect growth performance. Rumen fermentation was characterized by low pH and high total volatile fatty acids and reducing sugar concentrations. Calves fed ad libitum showed lower ruminal lactate concentrations than calves fed restrictedly. Ammonia concentrations were highest in calves fed C-100 and lowest in calves fed ad libitum. The recovery of CoEDTA (added to milk replacer) varied between 20.5 and 34.9%, indicating that significant amounts of milk entered the rumen. Roughage addition decreased the incidence of plaque formation (rumen mucosa containing focal or multifocal patches with coalescing and adhering papillae covered by a sticky mass of feed, hair and cell debris) and the incidence of calves with poorly developed rumen mucosa. However, morphometric parameters of the rumen wall were hardly influenced by the type and level of roughage. Ruminal polysaccharide-degrading enzyme activities reflected the adaptation of the microorganisms to the dietary concentrate and roughage source. Results indicated that in veal calves, the addition of roughage to concentrate diets did not affect growth performance and positively influenced the macroscopic appearance of the rumen wall.

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