Effects of milk replacer allowances and levels of starch in pelleted starter on nutrient digestibility, whole gastrointestinal tract fermentation, and pH around weaning

T. T. Yohe, T. S. Dennis, C. Villot, J. D. Quigley, T. M. Hill, F. X. Suarez-Mena, K. M. Aragona, A. Pineda, A. H. Laarman, J. H.C. Costa, M. A. Steele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objectives of this study were to examine the effects of pelleted starter diets differing in starch and neutral detergent fiber (NDF) content when fed differing levels of milk replacer (MR) on nutrient digestibility, whole gastrointestinal tract fermentation, pH, and inflammatory markers in dairy calves around weaning. Calves were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 dietary treatments (n = 12 per treatment) in a 2 × 2 factorial design based on daily MR allowance and amount of starch in pelleted starter (SPS): 0.691 kg of MR per day [dry matter (DM) basis] with starter containing low or high starch (12.0% and 35.6% starch on DM basis, respectively), and 1.382 kg of MR per day (DM) with starter containing low or high starch. All calves were housed in individual pens with straw bedding until wk 5 when bedding was covered. Calves were fed MR twice daily (0700 and 1700 h) containing 24.5% crude protein (DM) and 19.8% fat (DM), and had access to pelleted starter (increased by 50 g/d if there were no refusals before weaning and then 200 g/d during and after weaning) and water starting on d 1. Calves arrived between 1 and 3 d of age and were enrolled into an 8-wk study, with calves undergoing step-down weaning during wk 7. Starting on d 35, an indwelling pH logger was inserted orally to monitor rumen pH until calves were dissected at the end of the study in wk 8. Higher SPS calves showed an increase in rumen pH magnitude (1.46 ± 0.07) compared with low SPS calves (1.16 ± 0.07), a decrease in rumen pH in wk 8 (high SPS: 5.37 ± 0.12; low SPS: 5.57 ± 0.12), and a decrease in haptoglobin in wk 8 (high SPS: 0.24 ± 0.06 g/L; low SPS: 0.49 ± 0.06 g/L). The majority of differences came from increased starter intake in general, which suggests that with completely pelleted starters the differences in starch and NDF do not elicit drastic changes in fermentation, subsequent end products, and any resulting inflammation in calves around weaning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6710-6723
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the funding agencies for the financial support provided for this study: Provimi North America (Lewisburg, OH), a division of Cargill Animal Nutrition, Mitacs (Toronto, ON, Canada), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (Ottawa, ON), Alberta Milk (Edmonton, AB, Canada), Westgen (Abbotsford, BC, Canada), BC Dairy Association (Burnaby, BC, Canada), SaskMilk (Regina, SK, Canada), and the Dairy Farmers of Manitoba (Winnipeg, MB, Canada). The authors thank the staff at the Provimi Nurture Research Center (Lewisburg, OH) for daily care and husbandry of calves, as well as everyone from the laboratories of M. A. Steele, J. H. C. Costa, and A. H. Laarman who helped during the harvesting procedures. The authors have not stated any conflicts of interest.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Dairy Science Association


  • VFA
  • continuous rumen pH
  • dairy
  • inflammatory markers
  • metabolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of milk replacer allowances and levels of starch in pelleted starter on nutrient digestibility, whole gastrointestinal tract fermentation, and pH around weaning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this