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The effects of different levels of alfalfa meal on performance, rumne fermentation and development of newborn dairy calves

M Mirzaee, M Khorvash, GR Ghorbani, M Kazemi-Bonchenari, A Riasi and H Beiranvand

(Journal of Animal Science Researches. 24 (1): 57-69)

Abstract (The full text in Persian language)

This research was performed to determine the effects of different levels of alfalfa meal feeding on performance, skeletal growth, ruminal fermentation and development of Holestin suckling milk calves. Thirty calves were randomly assigned to different treatments consisting of control (without forage), and experimental groups (contain 8 and 16 % alfalfa meal in starter). Feed intake was measured daily and body weight was weekly recorded, respectively. Also, ruminal fluid samples were collected at 35, 50, and 70 dayr of age to measure ruminal parameters. Oalves were slaughtered at 72 day (9 calves; 3 calves for each treatment) to measure rumen development parameters. Results showed that starter intake, average daily gain and feed efficiency during the pre and post-weaning periods were not different aCunl treatments. Also, weaning weight, final weight and skeletal growth were not significant for treatments. Ruminal pH significantly increased at 50 and 72 dayr with increasing alfalfa level. Acetate to propionate ratio and acetate concentration of rumen fluid increased at d 50 and 72 linearly and quadratically, respectively. Propionate and total volatile fatty acids concentrations linearly decreased at 50 and 72 days, respectively. Omasum weight with and without digest matter were greater with increasing forage level. Reticulo-rumen weight without digest matter increased quadraticaly with forage feeding. Alfalfa addition decreased corneum and epithelial layer thickness, but decreased papillae length. In overall, results of this study indicated that alfalfa meal feeding had no negative effect on performance of suckling milk calves, also improved ruminal pH, digestive organ weights and rumen development in suckling milk calves.

Key words: Alfalfa meal, Suckling milk calves, Rumen development


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