Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department / School

Dairy Science

First Advisor

Jill Anderson


condensed whey solubles, dairy calf, growth performance, microbially-enhanced soy protein, reverse osmosis water, water intake


Six experiments were conducted for this dissertation research to evaluate strategies to improve growth performance and health of calves. Growth performance, nutrient utilization, and health effects were evaluated when calves were offered water treated with reverse osmosis system (RW), fed starter pellets supplemented with microbially-enhanced soy protein (MSP) or supplemented condensed whey solubles (CWS). The first two experiments were conducted to determine drinking preference, growth performance, and health of dairy calves offered RW or by a municipal water treatment plant (MW), compared with local untreated well water (WW). First a sequential elimination study was conducted to observed drinking preference of calves given RW, MW and WW. Greater preference was observed calves fed RW and least was WW, with RW slightly preferred over MW. The second study was conducted to determine the effects of drinking RW versus MW on the growth performance and general health of calves. Total DMI and gain: feed, increased more over time for RW than MW. Water intakes were less in RW than MW, indicating more efficient water use. Frame growth, BW, nutrient utilization and blood metabolites were not different between treatments. Fecal scores tended to be less in calves on RW, with an interaction over time. The third and fourth experiments were conducted to determine effects of feeding calves starter pellets with MSP compared to soybean meal (SBM) with different milk replacers (MR) or with pasteurized milk. The third experiment demonstrated calves fed MSP at 23% of DM inclusion in starter pellets improved feed efficiency and maintained growth performance depending on MR. Next the fourth experiment was conducted to evaluate calves fed starter pellets with less inclusion of MSP (8% of DM basis) with pasteurized milk on growth performance and health. Calves fed MSP had greater DMI, and β-hydroxy butyrate (BHB) with similar BW and frame measurements between treatments. During the fifth and sixth experiments growth performance, nutrient utilization, and health were determine when calves were fed milk and starter pellets supplemented with CWS. In the fifth experiment during pre-weaning CWS were fed with milk and post-weaning CWS was top-dressed on starter pellets. Supplementing CWS improved starter intake, post-weaning BW, plasma concentrations of BHB, fecal scores, while maintaining frame growth. The sixth experiment was conducted on large commercial calf ranch to determine the effect of supplementing CWS on starter grain mix at low (CWSL) and high (CWSH) inclusion amounts throughout the first 12 wk of life. The DMI, BW, plasma concentration of BHB, and body condition scores were improved in calves fed CWSL while maintaining frame measurements and fecal and health scores. Improved water quality, feeding MSP, or supplementing CWS improved calf growth performance, nutrient utilization, and general health and offer new options for producers to improve calf performance.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Calves -- Feeding and feeds.
Dairy cattle -- Feeding and feeds.
Calves -- Feed utilization efficiency.
Calves -- Water requirements.
Calves -- Nutrition.
Soy proteins.
Water quality.


Includes bibliographical references



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright