During two trials, 35 and 27 Holstein calves were fed ad libitum complete, pelleted diets containing either 35% alfalfa (Trial 1) or 35% grass (Trial 2) hay from birth to 12 wk of age. Calves in Trial 1 were fed one of the following diets: control, control + 3.5% sodium chloride, or control + 5% sodium bicarbonate. In Trial 2, diets were: control, control + 5% sodium bicarbonate, or control + 5% sodium bicarbonate + loose, chopped grass hay. Intake of dry matter, gain in body weight, ruminal pH, or fecal starch did not differ. Calves fed sodium bicarbonate in Trial 1 but not 2 had a reduced feed efficiency compared with control and supplemented diets. In Trial 1 added sodium bicarbonate did not alter intake of digestible energy. Addition of sodium bicarbonate increased concentration of ruminal acetate and butyrate and decreased propionate in both trials. Fecal pH was elevated in calves fed sodium bicarbonate diets during both trials. Sodium chloride increased water intake in Trial 1, and sodium bicarbonate increased water intake in Trial 2. Incidence of free-gas bloat was higher in calves fed sodium bicarbonate in both trials. Addition of sodium bicarbonate to complete pelleted diets containing 35% alfalfa or 35% grass hay appeared to have no benefit for young, growing dairy calves in performance and health.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology