Effect of partial exchange of lactose with fat in milk replacer on performance and blood metabolites of Holstein calves

Echeverry-Munera, Juanita; Amado Barrantes, L.; Berends, H.; Leal, Leonel N.; Steele, Michael A.; Martin-Tereso, Javier


The objective of this study was to determine the effect of dietary energy source (fat vs. carbohydrate) in calf milk replacer (MR) on growth performance parameters and feed intake in rearing calves. In a randomized complete block design, 68 Holstein calves [40 females and 28 males; (mean ± SD) body weight (BW): 43.7 ± 1.43 kg] were assigned to 17 blocks of 4 calves based on birth date and parity of the dam. Within each block, calves were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 treatments: a high-lactose MR (HL; 17% fat; 44% lactose; n = 34), or a high-fat MR (HF; 23% fat; 37% lactose; n = 34). Lactose was exchanged for fat on a weight per weight basis, resulting in a 6% difference in metabolizable energy density per kilogram of MR. The feeding plan started with 6 L/d for 7 d, then 8 L/d for 35 d, 6 L/d for 7 d, and finally, 4 L/d for 7 d. Milk replacer allowances were offered in 2 meals per day at 140 g/L. Measurements included daily MR, starter and straw intakes, weekly BW, and blood metabolites, including nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA) and glucose, on wk 4, 6, 8, and 10. Increasing fat at the expense of lactose did not affect MR intake or solid feed intake during the preweaning and weaning periods. However, HF calves tended to consume more solid feed than HL calves during the postweaning period (2.63 ± 0.08 vs. 2.52 ± 0.08 kg/d). Additionally, average daily gain (HF = 0.78 ± 0.02, HL = 0.77 ± 0.02 kg/d) and final BW (HF = 98.8 ± 1.53, HL = 97.7 ± 1.57 kg) were not affected by MR composition. Nevertheless, NEFA concentration was higher in HF calves than in HL calves (0.21 ± 0.01 vs. 0.17 ± 0.01 mmol/L), and glucose concentration was higher in HF calves (6.52 ± 0.23 vs. 5.86 ± 0.23 mmol/L). Under the conditions of this study, HF calves consumed similar amounts of solid feed and grew comparably to the HL calves; however, the isonitrogenous replacement of lactose by fat had evident metabolic effects, such as increased blood NEFA and glucose concentrations.