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Effect of oat hay provision method on growth performance, rumen fermentation and blood metabolites of dairy calves during preweaning and postweaning periods.

  • Gasiorek, M1
  • Stefanska, B1
  • Pruszynska-Oszmalek, E2
  • Taciak, M3
  • Komisarek, J4
  • Nowak, W1
  • 1 Department of Animal Nutrition, Poznań University of Life Sciences, 33 Wołyńska Street, 60-637Poznań, Poland. , (Poland)
  • 2 Department of Animal Physiology and Biochemistry, Poznań University of Life Sciences, 35 Wołyńska Street, 60-637Poznań, Poland. , (Poland)
  • 3 Department of Animal Nutrition, The Kielanowski Institute of Animal Physiology and Nutrition, Polish Academy of Sciences, 3 Instytucka Street, 05-110Jabłonna, Poland. , (Poland)
  • 4 Department of Animal Breeding and Product Quality Assessment, Poznań University of Life Sciences, Złotniki, 1 Słoneczna Street, 62-002Suchy Las, Poland. , (Poland)
Published Article
Animal : an international journal of animal bioscience
Publication Date
Oct 01, 2020
DOI: 10.1017/S1751731120000774
PMID: 32308189


The comparison of the effects of all forage offering methods would be particularly useful information in modeling growth performance and rumen fermentation of dairy calves. Therefore, this study attempted to evaluate the effects of methods of oat hay provision on growth performance, rumen fermentation and biochemical blood indices of dairy calves during preweaning and postweaning periods. At birth, 40 female Polish Holstein-Friesian calves (3 days of age; 39.6 ± 0.39 kg BW) were randomly assigned to four treatment groups differing in the access to chopped oat hay: CON (control, starter without oat hay), OH (starter feed containing 10% DM basis oat hay), OH-FC (starter feed containing 10% DM basis oat hay and oat hay fed as free-choice provision in different buckets) and FC (starter feed and oat hay fed as free-choice provision in different buckets). The calves were weaned on day 56, and then the study continued until day 84. Intakes of starter feed and oat hay were recorded daily, whereas BW and hip height (HH) on day 3 and then every 14 days. Samples of blood were collected on the initiation of experiment and then every 14 days, and rumen contents on day 28, 56 and 84. No treatment effects were found for starter, starch, CP, total DM intake, average daily gain, feeding efficiency, change in HH, ruminal fluid pH, concentrations of ruminal propionate and NH3-N, concentrations of urea nitrogen and non-esterified fatty acids in the blood. There were differences between treatments in terms of ruminal total volatile fatty acids and molar concentrations of acetate, butyrate and acetate to propionate ratio; highest in OH and OH-FC groups, especially during the postweaning period. On the other hand, lower concentrations of iso-valerate were found in OH and OH-FC groups on day 56 and 84. The concentrations of IGF-I throughout the experiment and β-hydroxybutyrate during the postweaning period in the blood were influenced by treatment, with the greatest values observed in OH and OH-FC calves. Results of this study indicate that starter feed containing chopped oat hay improves rumen fermentation parameters, which might allow successful transition from preruminant to mature ruminant state. Also, providing chopped oat hay with pelleted starter feed seems to be a better method than free-choice supplementation.

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