Development of the digestive tract of dairy calves reared in a fractionated nursing system

To evaluate the effect of the fractionated nursing system in rumen development were used 12 Holstein calves, with an initial body weight average of 37.0 kg, individually maintained in holding pens. Conventional treatment was made with four liters of milk daily, during 60 days and fractionated nursing was composed by six liters from the 6th until 25th day, four liters of 26 to 45 and two liters from 46 to 59 days of life. Besides that liquid diet, Cynodon sp. hay, water and mineral supplement were freely offered. Food consumption was monitored daily. The animals were weighted weekly at morning, after the delivery of liquid diet. At 60 days, the calves were euthanized and the digestive system was weighted and rumen papillae were microscopically measured. The nursing system did not interfere significantly in concentrate, hay and total dry matter intake. In contrast, fractionated nursing resulted in higher body weight at 60 days and significant increase in absolute weight of digestive tract, rumen-reticulum, omasum and intestines, so as relative weight of omasum, intestines and mitotic index of ruminal papillae. The fractionated nursing system may be a feeding alternative to improve the rumen development and of calves.

Fractionated nursing system; cattle; digestive tract; mitotic index; omasum; papillae; rumen

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