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Milton Thomas

Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Dairy Science

First Advisor

Arnold R. Hippen


Distillers grain, calves, growth


With the booming ethanol industry in the Midwest, production of distillers grains is increasing day by day. Distillers grains has already been used as a source of protein and energy in the livestock industry. Limited research has been conducted to date to exploit distillers grains in calf nutrition. Being a proven source of energy and protein for lactating dairy cows, it is hypothesized that distillers grains can substitute other sources of energy and protein including soybean meal, oats, and ground corn in calf starters. An experiment was conducted to determine the effect of distillers grains on rumen development, growth and metabolic responses of newborn calves. Calves were fed a control diet with no distillers grains and two experimental diets containing 28% and 56% distillers grains respectively. Feeding distillers grains at 56% OM of calf starter increased the dry matter intake and decreased feed efficiency. Average daily gain and final body weight were similar for calves fed the corn-soybean meal based control diet and for calves fed diets containing distillers grains. Rumen papillae length and width were decreased for the calves fed distillers grains diets. Starters containing distillers grains at 56% decreased rumen pH rendering the young calves susceptible to parakeratosis of rumen mucosa. Incorporating distillers grains at 28% OM of calf starter caused parakeratosis to a lesser extent when compared with that caused by 56% distillers grains, as indicated by lesser pigmentation observed in the images. Calves fed 28% distillers grains also had similar dry matter intake and feed efficiency as that of control diet. Because of greater fat content in the distillers grains, calf starter diets containing distillers grains also caused linear increase in plasma BHBA and NEFA concentrations in blood. Propionic and butyric acid concentrations in the rumen fluid were decreased by feeding distillers grains, but not significantly. It is concluded that distillers grains when included in calf starters at a moderate level (28%) promoted optimum growth and performance of calves, but when included at greater level (56%) decreased the feed efficiency and performance of calves.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Calves -- Feeding and feeds
Distillers feeds
Calves -- Growth


Includes bibliographical references (pages 66-77)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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