Growth and health of pre-weaned Holstein dairy heifers fed PROTERNATIVE® SF in combination with LEVUCELL® S
The objective of this experiment was to evaluate the effects of grain starter supplemented with two live yeast-cell products on health and growth of pre-weaned Holstein heifers. In July 2013, sixty newborn heifers from a local dairy were blocked by weight and serum protein concentration (SPC). A texturized calf starter was prepared with half of the batch used as control (NS). The other half was yeast-supplemented (YS), to contain in each 1.14 kg of starter, 10 billion Colony Forming Units (CFU) of PROTERNATIVE® SF (Saccharomyces cerevisiae boulardii), and 10 billion CFU of LEVUCELL® SC (Saccharomyces cerevisiaeI-1077), both from Lallemand Animal Nutrition (Milwaukee, WI). The starter was formulated with cracked corn, whole oats, protein pellets, liquid fat, molasses, corn gluten feed, Bio-Mos® (Alltech Inc., Nicholasville, KY), and Deccox® (Zoetis, Inc. Kalamazoo, MI).
Blood SPC was measured at birth with a refractometer (MISCO #PA202X, Cleveland, OH). Growth was assessed on d 0, 30 and 60 d using an electronic scale, measuring tapes, and a hipometer. Calves were individually housed in polypropylene hutches until weaned at d 60. Two liters of farm-pasteurized milk (UV Pure™) were bottle-fed twice daily. Starter was fed daily to 6d old calves at d1. Starter intake and individual orts were measured. Drinking water was constantly available. An SPC of 6.5 g/dL observed in both NS and YS calves suggested high passive immunity transfer, as it is strongly correlated with IgG concentrations. This exceeded the concentrations of 5.5 g/dL SPC considered excellent by the dairy industry. There was a trend for higher starter DMI (11%) in calves fed YS(1.14 kg vs. 1.01 kg for YS and NS, respectively) (P=0.09). Weight gains (70.3 kg vs. 69.6 kg, P=0.68), whither heights (86.4 vs. 86.9cm, P=0.77), hip heights (91.9cm vs. 91.4cm, P=0.59), and hip widths (27.5cm vs. 27.4cm, P=0.58) were not different between YS and NS, respectively. Three animals were removed from the experiment due to hernias or reduced motility; no significant respiratory problems or diarrhea were observed. Under the conditions of this experiment, calf growth was not different between treatments. This can be attributed in great part to the very high SPC result of excellent colostrum feeding program which may have negated the beneficial impact of yeast supplementation.
Keywords: Heifers, calves, growth, Saccharomyces