Abstract #M156

# M156
Body weight and skeletal growth in pre-weaned dairy calves fed organic-certified milk replacer.
C. A. LeCuyer1, O. M. Gorman1, M. Ghelichkhan*1, R. C. R. Tinini2, J. G. Dessbesell2, M. A. Zambom2, A. F. Brito1, 1University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, 2Universidade Estadual do Oeste do Paraná, Marechal Cándido Rondon, PR, Brazil.

Calf management is a critical aspect of dairy farming and proper nutrition in the preweaning phase is essential to produce healthy and productive cows. In the first few weeks of life calves depend entirely on milk or milk replacer (MR) to meet their nutritional requirements. Milk replacer provides several benefits to dairy producers including improved biosecurity, calf performance, and profitability. However, organic producers typically feed whole milk (WM) to their calves partially because no organic-certified MR was available in the market until recently. Our goal was to compare WM vs. MR (Organi-Calf; MilkSpecialties Global, MN) on BW and skeletal growth of pre-weaned dairy calves. Thirty organic-certified Jersey calves (18 female, 12 male) were assigned to 1 or 2 treatments: 4 L of WM or MR from birth until weaning (8 wk of age) in a randomized complete block design. Water and starter grain were offered ad libitum throughout the study. Body weight and skeletal measurements were taken weekly. Data were analyzed using the MIXED procedure of SAS with repeated measures over time; birth BW or individual body measurements were used as covariate. The starter grain averaged 24.9% CP and 5% crude fat, while mean true protein and fat concentrations of WM were 3.7 and 4.64%, respectively; MR had 21.3% CP and 22.1% crude fat. Body weight of calves fed WM (mean = 40.5 kg) was 3.6 kg greater (P < 0.001) than that of calves fed MR (mean = 36.9 kg; SEM = 0.70 kg). Significant effects were also observed for wither height (73.9 vs. 72.2 cm; SEM = 0.35 cm), hip height (76.6 vs. 75.2 cm; SEM = 0.30 cm), heart girth (82.8 vs. 80.8 cm; SEM = 0.44), and body length (75.6 vs. 72.9 cm; SEM = 0.69 cm) with feeding WM vs. MR, respectively. In contrast, hip width (mean = 18.4 cm; SEM = 0.49 cm) did not differ in calves fed WM or MR. It can be concluded that MR was not comparable to WM regarding BW and skeletal growth over time. Profitability analyses are needed to determine the feasibility of adopting MR in organic

Key Words: calf, organic dairy, whole milk