Wheat straw treated with 35 g NaOH per kg was offered to male calves at three levels: 300 (A), 500 (B), and 700 (C) g/kg diet, in a metabolism trial and in a feeding trial. In the former the wheat straw was offered either neutralized with HC1 (N) or unneutralized (U), in six subtreatments (AN, BN, CN, AU, BU and CU) in a 3 × 2 factorial design to a total of 24 calves. Dry-matter intake per kg W0·73 was 123, 108, 104, 122, 105 and 91 g/day, and the digestibility of the organic matter of the straw was 0·388, 0·616, 0·629, 0·385, 0·528 and 0·544 respectively. The apparent digestibility of the crude protein of the straw was negative. Nitrogen retention per kg W0·73 was 0·91, 0·58, 0·52, 0·97, 0·57 and 0·50 g/day, respectively.
In the feeding trial, unneutralized, NaOH-treated wheat straw was offered to a total of 84 calves for 100 days at the above three levels with two protein levels: standard, 120 g/kg (S) and high, 140 g/kg (H), in six subtreatments (AS, BS, CS, AH, BH and CH) in a 3 × 2 factorial design. The concentrates were pelleted. From day 101 to slaughter all the calves were offered one finishing diet.
Level of protein had no effect on performance. Increasing the levels of straw in the first 100 days sharply reduced average daily gains; these were 1 074, 825 and 583 g, respectively. However, the respective average daily gains on the finishing diet were 1 131, 1 272 and 1 316 g, indicating a considerable amount of compensatory growth.