Agroscope Liebefeld-Posieux, Swiss Federal Research Station for Animal Production and Dairy Products (ALP), CH-1725 Posieux

Maize grain and a mixture for four cereals in calf feeding

Two experiments involving a total of 80 bull calves were conducted by Agroscope Liebefeld-Posieux (ALP) at the Posieux research station, in order to evaluate possibilities of substituting cereals for a part of the liquid feed. A control group was compared to an experimental group in both trials. The animals of the control groups received an unrestricted standard ration based on whole milk supplemented by milk replacer. The animals in the experimental groups were given the same liquid feed but in limited quantity (max. 1.9 kg DM/day), with a separate unrestricted supplement of solid feed. In the first experiment this consisted of whole maize grains, in the second of a mixture of four cereals (wheat, barley, maize, oats) in the form of flakes. All animals were kept in group pens with straw bedding.In the two experiments the total intake of dry matter (both liquid and solid feeds) of the experimental group was similar to that of the control group. The intake of energy and protein, however, was noticeably lower in the experimental groups. As a result, daily weight gain declined by about 10 – 12% and the fattening period was extended by about 10 days in the experimental groups. The external fat cover of these animals was judged to be ”insufficient“, whereas the carcass conformation and the meat colour was similar in all groups. Nevertheless, the gross margin per kg of milk realised with the maize grain ration was about 0.06 CHF higher than that of the corresponding control group, while the gross margin achieved with the mixture of four cereals was 0.02 CHF lower.

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