MSU calf study shows value of transition milk

A Michigan State University study shows transition milk improves health in neonatal calves.

The study, published in the Journal of Dairy Science, says Calves fed transition milk consumed more solids, metabolizable energy, and protein, and gained twice as much body weight over the four-day study than those fed milk replacer. The calves fed transition milk also had better cough, fecal, nose, and ear health scores in the first four days after colostrum than calves fed milk replacer.

Michigan State researchers also found feeding transition milk doubled villus length and width, mucosa thickness, and increased the number of T cells.

Data from the study supports the recommendation that transition milk should be fed on the second and third days of a calf’s life. The authors say that feeding transition milk for four days following an initial feeding of colostrum stimulates development in all sections of the small intestine in the first few days of life and improves health and growth.

The study used twenty-three neonatal Holstein bull calves that were purchased from a large commercial Michigan dairy farm one hour from campus.

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