The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of feeding kelp on growth and economics of group-fed organic dairy calves. Heifer calves born at the University of Minnesota West Central Research and Outreach Center, Morris, organic dairy during the fall of 2012 (n = 52) and the spring of 2013 (n = 64) were used to evaluate the effect of feeding kelp on growth and profitability of group-fed calves fed once per day in an organic production system. The treatment groups were (1) control calf starter (18% CP as fed; CON = 5 groups), (2) calf starter plus 56.7 g/d of kelp per calf daily (K2 = 4 groups), or (3) calf starter plus 113.5 kg/d of kelp per calf daily (K4 = 4 groups). Calf groups were fed organically produced milk once daily at 1.5% (DM basis) of the combined birth weight of calves in the group. Body weight and hip height were recorded at birth, once per week, at weaning (60 d), and at 90 d of age. Calf group ADG to weaning and weaning BW were 0.67, 82.2; 0.62, 78.8; and 0.63, 80.7 kg for CON, K2, and K4, respectively. Hip heights at weaning were 94.2, 90.7, and 91.1 cm for CON, K2, and K4, respectively. Daily gains from d 0 to 90 d of age were 0.78, 0.73, and 0.71 kg for CON, K2, and K4, respectively. The cost per kilogram of gain from d 0 to 90 d of age was greater (P = 0.07) for the K4 ($4.13) group compared with the CON ($3.69) group. In summary, calves fed a control calf-starter ration had greater (P = 0.06) ADG than calves fed calf-starter rations with kelp. Feeding kelp in calf-starter rations for organic dairy calves may not be economically justified.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors express gratitude to Darin Huot and coworkers at WCROC for their assistance in data collection and care of animals. This work was supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agri culture (Hatch Multistate NC-2042 Project Number MIN-05-034; Project Accession Number 1000495).
© 2015 American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists.
Copyright 2016 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.
- Calf growth
- Calf starter
- Organic dairy