Growth performance, nutrient utilization, and health of calves supplemented with condensed whey solubles.

Document Type


Publication Date



American Dairy Science Association


Journal of Dairy Science




Suppl. 2






condensed whey solubles, dairy calf, growth performance


Our objective was to evaluate growth performance, nutrient utilization, and health of calves supplemented with condensed whey solubles (CWS). Twenty-four Holstein calves (2 d old) in hutches were used in a 12-wk randomized complete block design study. Calves were blocked by birthdate and sex. Treatments were (1) control (CON) with no supplement and (2) 40 mL/d CWS. Pre-weaning CWS was fed with milk and post-weaning CWS was top-dressed on starter pellets. Calves were fed 2.83 L of pasteurized milk 2×/d during wk 1 to 5, 1 × /d in wk 6, and weaned at d 42. Starter pellets and water were fed ad libitum. Individual intakes of milk and starter pellets were measured daily. Fecal scores (0 = firm, 3 = watery) and respiratory scores (healthy ≤3, sick ≥5) calculated from the sum of scores for rectal temperature, cough, ocular, and nasal discharge were recorded daily. Body weights (BW), frame growth and jugular blood samples were taken 1 d every wk at 3 h post morning feeding. Fecal grab samples were collected in wk 12 for total-tract digestibility (TTD). Data were analyzed using MIXED procedures of SAS 9.4 with repeated measures. Significant differences were declared at P < 0.05 and tendencies were 0.05 ≤ P < 0.10. Total DMI was greater (P < 0.01) in CWS (1500 and 1580 g/d; SEM = 45.8 for CON and CWS, respectively). Calf BW (89.6 and 93.5 kg; SEM = 1.47) tended to be greater (P = 0.06) during post-weaning in CWS. Gain:feed (0.55 and 0.53 kg/kg; SEM = 0.02), ADG (0.81 and 0.86 kg/d; SEM = 0.03), withers height (92.3 and 93.7 cm; SEM = 0.55), plasma urea nitrogen (12.5 and 12.5 mg/dL; SEM = 0.38) and glucose (94.7 and 93.2 mg/dL; SEM = 0.96) were similar. β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB; 34.4 and 36.1 mg/dL; SEM = 1.03) was greater (P = 0.03) in CWS. The TTD of DM, CP, and ADF were similar and NDF (57.6 and 48.9%; SEM = 5.05) tended to be greater (P = 0.10) in CON. Fecal scores were similar overall with a treatment × wk interaction (P < 0.01). Respiratory scores were similar. Supplementing CWS improved starter intake, post-weaning BW, BHB, fecal scores, and maintained frame growth.