Objectives of the experiment were to determine effects of dietary hay concentration in a dry total mixed ration and its carryover effects on intake, growth performance, faecal score, and feed efficiency of weaned dairy calves. Eighteen Friesian × Jersey weaned calves (n = 6 calves/treatment) were randomly assigned to three rhodes grass hay treatments (RG13, RG26, and RG39). The experimental diets were rhodes grass hay-based total mixed rations containing 13%, 26%, and 39% chopped hay on a DM basis. The experiment had two phases of four weeks each. In phase 1 (weeks 1–4), weaned calves were fed RG13, RG26, or RG39. Then, in phase 2 (weeks 5–8), all calves were shifted to a maize silage-based diet. All the diets were iso-nitrogenous and were fed ad libitum. Calves were housed in individual pens and had free access to water and feed. Average daily gain and daily dry matter intake were analysed as repeated measures, whereas bodyweight and feed efficiency were analysed using one-way ANOVA. In phases 1 and 2 dry matter intakes were similar. Growth rate decreased linearly with increasing concentration of hay in phase 1. Overall, daily dry matter intake, average daily gain, change in body condition score and structural measurements were not affected by dietary treatments. However, overall feed efficiency was improved for calves fed RG26 compared with RG13 and RG39. Thus, feeding a moderate level of hay had positive impacts on the transition to a silage-based TMR.
Carryover effects of varying hay concentration on the transition to silage-based feeding of weaned dairy calves
Author: Z.A. Qamar, M.A. Rashid, T.N. Pasha, M.I. Malik, A. Saleem, M. Raza, H.U. Rehman & M.S. Yousaf
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