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The development of solid food intake in calves. 1. The effect of previous experience of solid food, and the physical form of the diet, on the development of food intake after weaning

  • J. Hodgson (a1)

Summary

1. British Friesian male calves were offered reconstituted milk substitute four times a day in steadily increasing quantities, so that the amount offered exceeded appetite after 14 days. They were given one of three dried herbage diets (pellets P1 and P2, and untreated material H2 made from the same crop as P2) to appetite, either from the start of the experiment (Treatment A) or from the start of weaning (Treatment W) 21 days after arrival. The experiment was terminated six weeks after the calves were weaned.

2. Grinding and pelleting (P2 v. H2) markedly reduced the in vivo digestibility of the diet, and the time of retention in the alimentary tract, increased the voluntary dry-matter intake by 50% and live-weight gain of the calves by 100%. The intakes of the two pelleted diets were similar.

3. The intake of diet H2 after weaning was greater in calves which had experience of the diet before weaning than in those which did not, but the intake of the pelleted diets was not affected by previous experience of solid food. The time required to eat unit weight of dry matter was four times as long for diet H2 as for the pelleted diets, and there were similar differences between diets in ruminating time. It is suggested that the development of solid food intake is influenced by the ease with which the diet can be eaten.

4. The initial increase in solid food intake after weaning was related to an increase in the times spent eating and ruminating, but later increases in food intake were achieved with no further increases in eating or ruminating time.

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References

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The development of solid food intake in calves. 1. The effect of previous experience of solid food, and the physical form of the diet, on the development of food intake after weaning

  • J. Hodgson (a1)

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