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Keywords:

  • calf;
  • insulin;
  • internal fat;
  • milk replacer;
  • organs

ABSTRACT

The objective was to evaluate effects of feeding level of milk replacer on body growth, plasma metabolite and insulin concentrations, and allometric growth of visceral organs in suckling calves. Holstein bull calves (n = 8; 3–4 days of age) were fed either a low amount (average 0.63 kgDM/day, LM) or high amount (average 1.15 kgDM/day, HM) of high protein milk replacer until they were slaughtered at 6 weeks of age. Body weight (BW) at 4, 5, and 6 weeks of age, feed intake, average daily gain, and feed efficiency were higher in the HM than LM calves. The HM group had higher plasma glucose at 3 and 4 weeks of age and insulin levels after the age of 4 weeks compared with LM calves whereas no effect was detected on plasma nonesterified fatty acid or urea nitrogen concentrations. The HM calves had greater empty body weight (EBW), viscera-free BW and most of the organs dissected than LM calves. Relative weights (% of EBW) of liver, spleen, kidneys, and internal fat were higher, whereas head and large intestine was lower in HM than LM calves. The results suggest that increased milk feeding levels would accelerate the growth of the body and specific organs.