1 Department of Animal Science - Integrative physiology, Department of Animal Science, Science and Technology, Aarhus University2 Department of Animal Health and Bioscience, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Aarhus University, Aarhus University3 Integrative physiology, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Aarhus University, Aarhus University4 Department of Animal Science - Animal nutrition and physiology, Department of Animal Science, Science and Technology, Aarhus University5 Danish Cattle Research Centre6 Department of Animal Science - Animal nutrition and physiology, Department of Animal Science, Science and Technology, Aarhus University
The objective was to study the effect of rumen-escape starch and coarseness of ingredients in pelleted concentrates on performance, carcass quality and rumen wall characteristics in rosé veal calf production. Two alternative concentrates (Coarse and Slow) were compared with a traditional (Control) concentrate. Control was based on finely ground ingredients, whereas in Coarse, the same ingredients were coarsely ground resulting in a mean particle size before pelleting of 1.5 in Coarse and 0.6 mm in Control. Slow compared with Control and Coarse contained finely ground sorghum and corn instead of barley and wheat which increased the amount of rumen-escape starch to 59 compared with 22 g/kg in Control and Coarse. All concentrates had the same total starch (362 g/kg), NDF (168 g/kg), CP (154 g/kg) and DE (15.5 MJ/kg DM) content and a pellet diameter of 3.5 to 4 mm. Use of an ‘indicator of starch digestibility’ method gave a value of 98.6% for Control and Coarse and 91.1% for Slow (P < 0.001). A total of 57 Holstein bull calves (n = 19 per treatment) were offered one of the three concentrates ad libitum from weaning ( months of age) to slaughter (<10 months of age). Concentrate intake was recorded individually. Barley straw was available ad libitum but intake was not recorded. Average daily gain (1.43 kg/day), concentrate conversion efficiency (3.7 kg DM concentrate/kg gain), LW at slaughter (386 kg), carcass weight (194 kg) and EUROP conformation (3.9) were not affected by type of concentrate (P > 0.05). Papillae length and shape evaluated in atrium ruminis and the cranial part of the ventral rumen sac at slaughter were not affected by type of concentrate (P > 0.05). Rumen wall characteristics showed degrees of plaque formation (i.e., papillary aggregation), hyperaemia and necrotic areas in all treatment groups, but with no general difference between type of concentrate (P > 0.05). Incidence of liver abscesses (LAs, 16%) was not affected by type of concentrate (P > 0.05). There were no differences in performance or rumen wall characteristics between liver-abscessed and non-abscessed calves. The results show a high level of production performance with the three types of pelleted concentrates and indicates that neither the more coarse ingredients nor the additional rumen-escape starch tested, when fed ad libitum, could improve rumen wall characteristics or reduce LAs of rosé veal calves.