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Feeding an Extruded Cottonseed-Soybean Based Calf Starter
by Gene C. McCoy, Lance D. Ruppert, and Michael F. Hutjens

Feed ingredients in a calf starter can impact performance and intake. A commercially available extruded cottonseed-soybean (ECS) protein supplement provides higher levels of energy (oil), fiber, and undegradable protein compared to soybean meal based protein supplements. This research study was conducted to compare an ECS based calf starter to a traditional soybean meal based calf starter.

Forty Holstein calves were randomly assigned to each of the two treatments for a six week experiment beginning 2-days after birth. The treatments were a soybean based starter (control) and an ECS based starter as the experimental aspect. All calves received colostrum and were moved to individual calf hutches at two days of age. Each calf was fed whole milk twice a day at a rate of 10 percent of body weight for the first four weeks. In the final two weeks whole milk was fed once a day at 5 percent of body weight. Twenty calves were fed the control starter and the experimental starter (Tables 1 and 2) each day ad libitum with amounts fed and consumed measured daily. Each calf had water available free choice and remained in hutches for the entire experiment.

Body weight of each calf was measured at birth, when moved to the calf hutch, and weekly throughout the experiment. Each calf was also measured to determine height at the withers, body length, and heart girth when moved to the hutch and at four and six weeks of age. Fecal scores were taken daily to determine health problems. Data was analyzed by using the general linear models procedure of SAS. Body weight measurements on day two (hutch weights) after birth for each calf were used as a covariate in all analysis.

The results of the experiment are summarized in Table 3. Calves consumed more of the control starter and gained more than the calves fed the experimental starter. Height at the withers, body length, and heart girth results show no significant differences (P<.05). Fecal scores of calves fed the experimental starter were lower than the control calves, but were not significant in formulating our analysis. The higher fiber content of the experimental diet may lower fecal scores.

In conclusion the calves fed the ECS based starter did not consume as much feed, and did not gain as much as the calves fed the soybean based starter. The decrease in intake could be explained by the calves dislike of the physical form of the extruded cottonseed-soybean pellet. Its fuzzy texture and aroma may make it less palatable to the calf.

Table 1. Ingredients and nutrient composition of calf starters.

  % of Dry Matter
Item Control Experimental
Ground shell corn 30.40 37.5
Ground oats 16.30 17.20
Soybean meal 14.75 -
Extruded cottonseed-soybean - 30.40
Wheat bran 8.10 8.10
Dried molasses 4.00 4.10
Alfalfa meal 24.30 -
Dicalcium phosphate 1.45 0.50
Limestone - 1.50
Sodium chloride 0.60 0.60
Mineral/Vitamin mixa 0.10 0.10

aContains: Co,.004%; Cu,.5%; I,.025%; Fe,2.0%; Mg,5.0%;

Mn,3.0%; K,7.5%; Se,.015%; S,10%; Zn,3.0%; Vitamin A,

2200 IU/g; Vitamin D, 660 IU/g; and Vitamin E,8 IU/g.

Table 2. Chemical composition of calf starters (100% DM basis)

Component Control Experimental
Dry matter 91.0 93.2
Crude protein 18.8 17.8
ADF 5.0 11.6
NDF 26.9 22.2
Calcium 0.83 0.95
Phosphorus 0.69 0.60

Table 3. Average Daily Intakes, Body Weight Gaines, Fecal Score, and Body Measurements of Calves Fed Different Starters

Measurement and Stage Control Experimental
Hutch Weight, (lb)
Intakes, (lb)
85.6 92.7b
Day 2-14 0.03 0.02
Day 2-28 0.24 0.13c
Day 2-42 0.88 0.58b
Gain, (lb)
Day 2-14 0.27 0.24
Day 2-28 0.76 0.60c
Day 2-42 0.94 0.74c
Fecal Scorea
Day 2-14 2.17 1.96c
Day 2-28 2.14 2.00b
Day 2-42 1.88 1.79c
Height at Withers, (inches)
Day 02 30.2 30.8
Day 28 31.8 32.2
Day 42 32.6 33.2
Body Length, (inches)
Day 02 25.0 26.0
Day 28 27.0 28.0
Day 42 28.0 29.0
Hearth Girth, (inches)
Day 02 31.0 32.0
Day 28 33.5 34.0
Day 42 35.0 35.5

aScored as one being very solid, two being solid, three being partially solid, four being slightly watery, and five being watery.

bSignificant at P<.05

cSignificant at P<.10

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