Supplemental fat for dairy calves during mild cold stress

N. B. Litherland, D. N L Da Silva, R. J. LaBerge, J. Schefers, A. Kertz

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13 Scopus citations


Eighty-one Holstein and Holstein-cross dairy calves fed calf milk replacer (CMR) were used to determine response to increasing amounts of supplemental fat during mild cold stress. Calves (n=27) were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 treatments: (1) low fat [LF; 28% crude protein:15% fat milk replacer (28:15 MR)]; (2) medium fat [MF; 28:15 MR+113g/d of commercial fat supplement (FS)]; (3) high fat (HF; 28:15 MR+227g/d of FS). The MF and HF calves received FS from d 2 to 21, and all calves were fed LF from d 22 to 49. The CMR was fed at 1.4% of birth body weight (BBW) from d 1 to 10, at 1.8% of BBW from d 11 to 42, and at 0.9% of BBW from d 43 to 49. Calves were weaned on d 49 and remained in hutches until d 56. The CMR was reconstituted to 13% solids. Calves were fed a commercial starter grain (19.2% crude protein on a dry matter basis) ad libitum and offered warm water after CMR feeding. Calves were fed CMR twice daily at 0630 and 1730h in hutches bedded with straw. Starter intake, CMR intake, and ambient temperature were measured daily, and body weight (BW), hip height, and body length were measured weekly. Data were analyzed using PROC MIXED in SAS (SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC) as a randomized design with linear and quadratic contrasts. Calf BBW averaged 42.0±1.0kg, total serum protein averaged 5.8±0.1mg/dL, and birth ambient temperature averaged 5.0±1.1°C. Feeding FS increased metabolizable energy intake (MEI) over maintenance but decreased efficiency of conversion of BW gain:MEI. Starter intake by LF calves was greatest until the beginning of weaning, after which starter intake was similar among treatments. Because of higher starter intake, total MEI was similar among treatments. Feed efficiency through d 49 was greater for calves fed MF and HF. Average daily gain during fat supplementation was greater for MF and HF than for LF. Lack of increase in BW gain and feed efficiency between MF and HF treatments indicated that HF did not result in advantages over MF. Supplementing fat to preweaned calves fed CMR increased BW gain and decreased starter intake through d 21 which had carryover effects on starter intake on d 49 and reduced hip height and tended to reduced withers height and body length by d 56. The addition of supplemental fat to LF, during mild cold stress, may result in a suboptimal ratio of crude protein to metabolizable energy in the CMR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2980-2989
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported in part by funds from State of Minnesota and USDA-CSREES appropriated to the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station.


  • Cold stress
  • Milk replacer
  • Preweaned dairy calf
  • Supplemental fat


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