Abstract #T216

# T216
Evaluation of starter intake in Holstein calves during weaning using blood β-hydroxybutyrate concentrations measured with a handheld meter.
R. A. Molano*1, M. E. Van Amburgh1, 1Department of Animal Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

Rumen development is stimulated by the fermentation of carbohydrates and production of volatile fatty acids such as butyrate and propionate. Blood β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is well associated with feed intake (FI) and rumen development. Recently, the Nova Vet meter has been validated for BHB monitoring in transition dairy cows. The aim of this study was to evaluate the ketone Nova Vet meter and its ability to detect the production of BHB associated with starter intake during the weaning period. Sixty-one Holstein calves were offered up to 1.6 kg DM/d of milk replacer (28% CP, 15% fat at 150g/L) 3 times/d. Starter grain (25.6% CP, 2.5 Mcal ME/kg) was offered ad libitum and FI was measured daily. Weaning occurred during wk 8 and 9 (i.e., d 49 to 63). Blood was collected from wks 5 to 13, 4.65 ± 0.01 h after the morning feeding and blood BHB was determined using the Ketone Nova Vet kit (NVK). Another sample of plasma was frozen and stored until laboratory analysis using the BHB LiquiColor assay. The NVK BHB measurements were plotted against laboratory values and the average FI of the 3 previous days, including the day of blood collection. Plotted data were fitted with a linear regression. The optimal cut-point for NVK BHB measure was determined using a receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC), considering FI ≥1 Kg DM/d as a positive event. Data were analyzed for the entire period of study (EP, n = 540) and the weaning period only (WP, n = 121). Overall, NVK BHB measurements were reasonably correlated with laboratory assay values (r = 0.86, P < 0.001), and FI (r = 0.74, P < 0.001), but correlations were lower during the WP (r = 0.67 and 0.49, P < 0.001). From both EP and WP ROC (AUC = 0.92 and 0.74), the best combination of sensitivity (85 and 58%) and specificity (90 and 82%) using the NVK was found at 0.3 mmol/L BHB. The Nova Vet meter performed well for the period of study. However, since the potential interest of using this tool is determining the appropriate FI for more efficient weaning, data obtained suggests this tool might not be sensitive for this purpose.

Key Words: calf, starter, β-hydroxybutyrate