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Calves grow faster on the most digestible protein

Newborn calves gain more weight in a shorter time when a specialty soy protein is added to their pre-starter feed. At 100 days old, the calves weigh an average 4.7kg more than a control group on a standard pre-starter with soybean meal – giving producers a strong return on investment.

The findings are from a new feeding trial which has evaluated the performance of HP RumenStart from HAMLET PROTEIN. Conducted at the University of Warmia and Mazury in Poland, the results are the latest confirmation of specialty soy proteins’ beneficial role in young animal nutrition.

Supporting the transition to ruminant
HP RumenStart has been specially developed with a low content of antinutritional factors (ANFs) to support calves through their transition to ruminant in the early weeks of life. It is during this period that an efficient energy supply from the immature rumen can lead to a so-called weaning dip when calf growth comes to a temporary halt – extending the fattening period.

During the 100-day trial, the calves were first fed a standard diet of colostrum, followed by whole milk and calf milk replacer. The calves were offered pre-starter feed from day three – either the control feed containing 30.7% soybean meal or the test feed with 24.9% HP RumenStart.

Consistently higher daily weight gain
Calves fed HP RumenStart grew consistently faster throughout the trial, showing an average daily weight gain 5.1% higher than the control group. By the end of the trial, the calves on HP RumenStart were an average 4.7kg heavier.   

“The most important finding here is the calves’ continuously higher growth, which does not stop during weaning,” comments Christine Brøkner, R&D manager at HAMLET PROTEIN.

“This is linked to the minimal content of ANFs in HP RumenStart, which makes it highly digestible. ANFs are known to damage the villi in the small intestine and give a shorter feed transition time. As a result, protein digestibility and nutrient uptake are reduced – along with calf weight gain.”


Profitable returns
The calves on HP RumenStart also had a slightly higher feed intake. However, when feed costs are compared with the additional revenue gained from the calves’ higher live weight, the study shows a profitable return on investment for producers.

“The study confirms that calves on HP RumenStart get a nutritional headstart that helps them reach their target weight faster. Producers can either choose to slaughter calves earlier and reduce days of feeding, or they can slaughter at a fixed age when the calves are heavier,” says Christine Brøkner.

Further trials with HP RumenStart are already underway. 



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