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Published Akey Calf Research

Feeding calves different rates and protein concentrations of twenty percent fat milk replacers on growth during the neonatal period - Prof. Anim. Sci. 22:252-260 (2006)

3 trials
A 28% CP, 20% fat MR fed at 1.5 lb daily was successful at increasing calf gain by 55% vs. a 20% CP, 20% fat MR fed at 1.0 lb daily, with moderate reductions in starter intake (11%) and increases in medical treatment days (27%) from scouring.  Compared to feeding 1.0 lb of a 20% CP MR, targeting 2.5 to 3.0 lb maximum daily intake of the 28% CP, 20 fat MR resulted in no improvements in gain, 48% less starter intake, increased medical treatments (52 to 72%) for scouring, and was difficult to manage.  When feeding more that 1.0 lb of MR, more than 20% CP was needed to improve BW gain, suggesting that CP was limiting gain.  However, the targeted maximum intake of 2.5 to 3.0 lb MR was too high in these trials and resulted in excessive decreases in dry starter intake.


Feeding rate and concentrations of protein and fat of milk replacers fed to neonatal calves - Prof. Anim. Sci. 23:374-381 (2006)

3 trials
Feeding 1.5 lb of a 26% CP, 17% fat MR to neonatal calves less than 8 wk of age with starter fed appeared near optimum.  Additionally, this MR and rate did not have a negative affect on starter intake, efficiency, and post-weaning performance compared to the control 20% CP, 20% fat MR fed at 1.0 lb daily.  The amounts of MR fed did not have to be changed with age of the calf, fecal scores and health issues were not perturbed, and overall management needs were not increased relative to the control MR.  Research in calves less than 8 wk of age is needed on amino acid rather than CP and specific fatty acids rather than fat or energy requirements, since these data are not available.  More research is needed to determine the effects MR rates exceeding 1.5 lb on early post-weaning growth to minimize the growth slumps frequently reported.

The previous 2 articles define the nutrient concentrations and feeding rate of Akey Pinnacle milk replacer (26% protein, 17% fat, feeding rate of 1.5 lb powder per calf daily).


Protein concentrations for starters fed to transported neonatal calves -Prof. Anim. Sci. 23:123-134 (2007)

6 trials
There were no improvement in ADG, intake, efficiency, hip width change, or body condition score change to increased CP over 18% (as-fed basis), added RUP, and added MP in calves fed either a 20% CP MR at 1.0 lb or a 26% CP MR at 1.5 lb/day.  Calves fed a 20% CP MR and a starter with 15% CP had slower ADG, poor efficiency of gain, and less hip width change than calves fed starters with 18% CP.  This dataset represented 292 calves gaining at 109 to 138% the rate predicted by the NRC (2001) calf submodel.  Finally, calves fed a 20% CP MR and weaned at 28 d consumed more starter but other measurements from 0 to 56 days did not differ from calves weaned at 42 days. 

This series of trials defines 18% CP as-fed basis as correct for all calf starters fed to calves under 8 weeks old.


Effects of changing the fat and fatty acid composition of milk replacers fed to neonatal calves – Prof. Anim. Sci. 23:135-143 (2007)

4 trials
Calf ADG was increased 4 to 25% and scouring was reduced up to 40% when butyrate, canola oil, or the combination of coconut (medium chain fatty acids) and canola oil were added to MR based on all animal fat to alter the fatty acid profile of the MR to be more like cow’s milk.  Altering the fatty acid profile of calf MR has not received much attention in calf research and should be considered when formulating calf MR.


Amino acid fatty acid and fat sources for calf milk replacers – Prof. Anim. Sci. 23:401-408 (2007)

3 trials
Calf ADG was increased and scouring was reduced when butyrate, canola oil, and the combination of coconut and canola oil (sources of medium chain, C18:2, and C18:3 fatty acids) were added to MR based on all animal fat.  When lysine and methionine were added to 20% CP MR, ADG was increased verses 20% CP MR without added amino acids and ADG was equal to calves fed 22% CP MR without added amino acids (formulated to NRC 2001 requirements).  When lysine, methionine, butyrate, coconut oil, and canola oil were added to MR, ADG was increased 20% and abnormal fecal score days were reduced compared to calves fed a MR without these nutrients and ADG was increased 10% over calves fed pasteurized milk at equivalent DM intakes.  These nutrients also changed several key blood constituents, indicating they were altering calf metabolism, and should be considered when formulating calf MR.

The previous 2 articles shows the importance of fatty acid and amino acid balance in calf milk replacers and are the technology used in all Akey milk replacers.


Apex plant botanicals for neonatal calf milk replacers and starters – Prof. Anim. Sci. 23:521- 526 (2007)

2 trials
Calves fed 1.0 lb daily of a 20% milk CP and 20% fat grew faster when Apex was included at 0.05% in the MR.  Calves fed 1.0 lb daily of a 20% CP (55% milk protein and 45% soy protein concentrate protein) and 20% fat MR grew faster when Apex was included at 0.05% in the MR or included at 0.05% in the starter.  The effect appeared additive when Apex was included in both the MR and starter.  Feeding Apex increased starter intake and efficiency.  It appeared that Apex was not stimulating intake as a flavor or palatability enhancer, because starter intake was increased when Apex was fed via the MR.  Feeding Apex improved BW gain, starter intake, and efficiency consistently across both trials.


Effects of the feeding rate of high protein calf milk replacers – Prof. Anim. Sci 23:649-655 (2007)

3 trials
As the feeding rates of high protein MR (26 or 28% CP) were increased above 1.5 lb/day, ADG was increased from 0 to 21 d, but starter intake from 0 to 56 days was decreased.  From 0 to 56 days, ADG did not differ in calves fed high CP MR at 1.75 to 2.5 lb/day vs. 1.5 lb/day.  In trials 2 and 3, efficiency from 0 to 21 d was better in calves fed MR at rates over 0.681 kg/d, but worse after day 42.  The 26% CP, 17% fat MR fed to calves at 1.5 lb/day did not reduce starter intake and increased the ADG of calves compared to calves fed at conventional 20% CP, 20% fat MR at 1.0 lb/day.  Approximately 1.5 lb/day was the maximum amount of a high CP MR that could be fed without creating a weaning and post-weaning reduction in performance.

These 3 trials further define why Akey Pinnacle milk replacer is fed at 1.5 lb of powder per calf daily.


Effects of feeding rate of milk replacers and bedding material for calves in a cold naturally ventilated nursery – Prof. Anim. Sci. 23:656-664 (2007)

3 trials
During cold weather, in an unheated, naturally ventilated nursery, increasing a 20% CP, 20% fat MR from 1.0 to 1.5 lb/day and increasing a 26% CP, 17% fat MR from 1.5 to 2.0 lb/day did not improve ADG from 0 to 56 or 84 d because of reduced starter intake and efficiency.  Increasing a 26% CP, 17% fat MR from 01.5 to 2.0 lb/day from d 0 to 21 days and reducing it back to 1.5 lb/day from days 21 to 42 improved ADG from 0 to 56 days by 5% over calves fed 1.5 lb MR/day from 0 to 42 day.  Calves bedded with wheat straw gained 5 to 12% faster from 0 to 56 day than calves bedded with hardwood shavings.  Attention to bedding materials selected and their use greatly improved calf ADG during cold temperatures and was more successful than increasing the rate of MR fed.


Effects of changing the fatty acid composition of calf starters – Prof. Anim. Sci. 23:665-671 (2007)

4 trials
Calf ADG and efficiency were increased and plasma urea nitrogen concentrations were decreased when C4:0, C8:0, C10:0, C12:0, C14:0, C18:2, and C18:3 fatty acids were added to the calf starters.  These responses were consistent across 4 production trials in calves less than 2 months old and in calves up to 4 mo old.  Calf ADG was increased 6 to 10% in calves less than 2 months old and ADG was increased 4 to 5% in calves 2 to 4 months of age.  Feed efficiency was improved 10 to 14% in calves less than 2 months old and efficiency was increased 4 to 12% in calves 2 to 4 months of age.  Starter feeds formulated with consideration for the concentration of C4:0, C8:0, C10:0, C12:0, C14:0, C18:2, and C18:3 fatty acids resulted in consistent improvements in ADG and efficiency in calves less than 4 months of age.

These trials clearly denote that typical calf starters and growers for calves under 4 months old are deficient in specific fatty acids, including linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid.


Optimal concentrations of lysine methionine and threonine in milk replacers for calves less than five weeks of age – J. Dairy Sci. 91:2433-2442 (2008)

4 trials
Calf weight gains were improved by approximately 17% when whey-based calf milk replacers were supplemented with synthetic lysine and methionine.  Formulating 17% fat milk replacers fed at 1.5 lb/day to 26% CP, 2.34% lysine, and 0.72% methionine appeared optimum based on responses of body weight gain, efficiency, and serum concentrations of urea nitrogen.  Requirements for calves less than 5 weeks old, averaging 105 lb BW, consuming 0.45 lb CP/day, and gaining 1.0 lb body weight per day, appeared to be met with 17 g lysine, 0.31 methionine to lysine ratio, 0.54 methionine plus cysteine to lysine ratio, and less than 0.60 threonine to lysine ratio.

This is the first set of trials to document specific ratios of essential amino acids for milk replacers fed to herd replacement calves (non-veal calves).  These ratios are used in all Akey milk replacers.


Effects of the amount of chopped hay or cottonseed hulls in a textured calf starter on young calf performance – J. Dairy Sci. 91:2684-2693 (2008)

4 trials
Adding low energy, roughage (chopped hay or cottonseed hulls) to starters with adequate coarseness, reduced post-weaning (30 to 60 days of age) body weight gains in Holstein calves bedded on straw in 4 trials.  Limited (5%) amounts of roughage may have improved feed efficiency in calves between 60 and 88 days of age.  However, 10 to 15% roughage in the diet of calves between 60 and 88 days of age reduced body weight gain and efficiency.  Roughage at concentrations from 2.5 to 15% of the diet changed starter intake in an inconsistent manner across the 4 trials.

Do not feed any roughage to calves until they are at least 2 months old.  From 2 to 4 months of age, only include 5% roughage in the calf diet.

Effects of feeding different carbohydrate sources and amounts to young calves – J. Dairy Sci. 91:3128-3137 (2008)

4 trials
Increasing cane molasses, sucrose, or soyhulls to replace corn in the diet of dairy calves up to 3 mo old, reduced post-weaning body weight gain from 9 to 14%.  Replacing corn with whole oats did not change body weight gain.  Any realistic savings in the cost of a calf starter by replacing corn with molasses, sucrose, or soyhulls will have a negative impact on cost of body weight gain when 9 to 14% of body weight gain is lost.

Include as much grain as possible in calf starters and growers.  Replacing grain with fiberous feeds like soyhulls will reduce body weight gain.  Adding molasses or sugar sources reduced body weight gain of calves.

Oligosaccharides for dairy calves – Prof. Anim. Sci. 24:460-464 (2008)

3 trials
As administered continuously via the milk replacer, both 4 or 8 g of FOS per calf daily in Trials 1 and 2 and 6 g of MOS per calf daily in Trial 3 were not successful in increasing ADG, starter intake, feed efficiency, and hip width change or in reducing the days with abnormal fecal scores (scours) in calves under 2 months of age.


Effects of using wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate in dairy calf milk replacers – Prof. Anim. Sci. 24:465-472 (2008)

3 trials
Hydrolyzed wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate (each 80% crude protein ingredients) were included in milk replacers for Holstein dairy calves less than 2 mo of age.  All milk replacers were formulated to be equal in crude protein, fat, lysine, methionine, calcium, phosphorus, and added trace minerals and vitamins, and all were adequate in essential amino acids.  Body weight gains were reduced 12 to 21% when wheat protein replaced 15 to 38% of whey protein.  Body weight gains were reduced 12 to 54% when rice protein replaced 25 to 50% of whey protein.


Crude protein for diets fed to weaned dairy calves – Prof. Anim. Sci. 24:596-603 (2008)

3 trials
The literature reports the neonatal dairy calf fed milk or milk replacer should be fed 18% CP diet (as-fed).  Current results suggest that the weaned calf should remain on an 18% CP diet with an approximately 63 g CP/Mcal ME until 8 wk old.  Additionally, the 8 to 12 wk old, 209 lb body weight calf fed 5% hay should be fed a 15% CP diet with approximately 52 g CP/Mcal ME to optimize ADG or a 16% CP diet with approximately 56 g CP/Mcal ME to optimize feed efficiency.

Feed an 18% crude protein as-fed basis starter until 8 weeks of age.  At that point, calves can be fed a 15 to 16% crude protein grower.

Effect of consistency of nutrient intake from milk and milk replacer on dairy calf performance – Prof. Anim. Sci. 25:85-92 (2009)

2 trials
Whole, raw, saleable milk had variable concentrations of nutrients and greater concentration of bacteria than milk replacer.  Whole milk provided more CP, fat, and energy intake when fed at similar amounts of DM but supported lower rates of body weight gain than calves fed milk replacer or a blend of milk and milk replacer.  When milk replacer was fed at an equal weekly intake but variable daily intake, calves had at a lower rate of body weight gain than calves fed a consistent daily amount of milk replacer.  Additionally, calves fed a high fat (31% fat DM basis) milk replacer had a lower BW gain than did calves a low fat (17% fat dry matter basis) milk replacer formulated with consideration for amino and fatty acid concentrations.  A consistent diet supports greater rates of BW gain and a milk replacer offers better potential to provide a consistent diet than saleable milk.


Effects of changing the essential and functional fatty acid intake of dairy calves – J. Dairy Sci. 92:670-676 (2009)

2 trials
Supplementing a Ca salt of fish oil to the corn and soybean meal-based diet of the dairy calf under 3 months old did not change any measurements.  Supplementing C18:3 (linolenic acid), an essential fatty acid as a Ca salt of flax oil, to the corn and soybean meal-based diet of the dairy calf under 3 months old resulted in increased ADG and feed efficiency.

Calf diets up are deficient in linolenic acid, as essential fatty acid.  Supplementing linolenic acid via Akey A-Boost or Flaxtech increased body weight gains by approximately 8%.

Effects of corn processing particle size and diet form on performance of calves in bedded pens – J. Dairy Sci. 92:782-789 (2009)

5 trials
Holstein calves from zero to 12 weeks old were fed diets that differed in physical form.  Diets with similar nutrient and ingredient contents were processed to result in few or many fines.  Diets contained either whole, coarse dry rolled, or coarse steam flaked corn, or all ingredients were finely rolled and completely pelleted. Corn processing did not change body weight gain, intake, efficiency, structural gain, fecal, or health scores.  A diet intentionally made with large amounts of fines resulted in reduced feed intake and 17% slower body weight gains versus a coarse textured diet with the same ingredient and nutrient composition.

Calves do not like fines and will eat considerably less of a diet with fine particles which reduced body weight gains.  Calves fed whole corn performed as well as calves fed processed grains, allowing a diet to be made with less fine particles and possibly reducing the cost of the diet.

Additionally, calves fed pelleted and textured diets with similar ingredient and nutrient composition had similar performance.  Calves were bedded with straw and inevitably calves consume some straw.  Results of pelleted vs. textured diets for calves could be different if calves are housed in elevated stalls with no bedding.