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A field study to determine the effect of a fatty acid blend in milk replacer or whole milk on calf health and performance

Murray-Kerr, Christine F., Waterman, Douglas F., Metcalf, John A.
The Professional animal scientists 2017 v.33 no.2 pp. 222-229
blood sampling, calves, colostrum, diarrhea, dried skim milk, farms, fatty acids, milk consumption, milk replacer, technicians, whole milk, New York, Ontario
The physiological effects of feeding a fatty acid blend to calves including health, fecal consistency, milk intake, and growth were evaluated. A total of 262 calves were enrolled from 7 different farms across southwestern Ontario and 1 farm in western New York. At birth, calves were weighed and assigned to either a control or fatty acid (FA) group. After colostrum feeding, FA calves received 1.2g of a fatty acid blend diluted with 9.6g of skim milk powder into whole milk or milk replacer per feeding (2 times/d) until wk 8 of life. Control calves received 10.8g of skim milk powder in whole milk or milk replacer per feeding (2 times/d). Study technicians visited farms weekly to collect health scores and BW data on 1- to 8-wk-old calves. Blood samples were collected from each calf at wk 1, 5, and 8. The mean of the total fecal scores over the 8-wk study period was reduced (P < 0.001) in FA compared with control calves. In addition, more calves were given a fecal score ≥2 (loose/watery diarrhea) over the 8-wk study period in the control compared with the FA group (P = 0.002). The incidence of treatment for diarrhea in the control group was 32%, compared with 23% in the FA group (P = 0.195). There was no effect of treatment on ADG (P = 0.83). In conclusion, FA improved fecal consistency, but there was no significant effect on the incidence of diarrhea or growth.