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Annals of Animal Science

The Journal of National Research Institute of Animal Production

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Effects of species-specific probiotic addition to milk replacer on calf health and performance during the first month of life

1 / Erica Tirloni1 / Simone Stella1 / Serena Maroccolo1 / Barbara Ripamonti1 / Carla Bersani1 / Jessica Michela Caputo1 / Vittorio Dell’Orto1 / Nicola Rota2 / Giovanni Savoini1

1Department of Health, Animal Science and Food Safety

2Department of Veterinary Science and Public Health, University of Milan, Via Celoria 10, I-20133 Milan, Italy

This content is open access.

Citation Information: Annals of Animal Science. Volume 14, Issue 1, Pages 101–115, ISSN (Print) 1642-3402, DOI: 10.2478/aoas-2013-0089, February 2014

Publication History

Published Online:
2014-02-13

Abstract

The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of the administration of a species-specific probiotic (Lactobacillus animalis SB310, Lactobacillus paracasei subsp. paracasei SB137 and Bacillus coagulans SB117 in a 30:35:35 ratio, respectively; 1.8 × 1010 CFU/g of powder) on gut microbial balance, immune response and growth performance of Holstein female calves during the first month of life. Twenty-two calves were divided into two experimental groups from 2 to 28 days of life: control (C), fed with milk replacer and concentrate as a basal diet, and treatment (T), fed C diet plus 1 g/calf/day of probiotic powder for the first month of age. Faecal and blood samples were individually collected and analysed weekly. Individual faecal score was recorded daily and general health score was calculated at the end of the trial. Cell-mediated immune response was evaluated by skin test at 7 and 28 days of life. Milk replacer and concentrate intake were recorded daily, while body weight and biometrical parameters were recorded at 2, 8, 14, 21 and 28 days of life, thus average daily gain and feed conversion rate were calculated. During the first week of treatment, lower blood eosinophil percentage (0.05% vs. 0.22%; P≤0.01) was found in T group, while basophils were higher in T than C group at the end of the trial (0.21% vs. 0.16%; P≤0.05). Higher faecal lactic acid bacteria (LAB)/E. coli ratio on day 28 of life (3.73 log CFU/g vs. 2.02 log CFU/g; P≤0.05) and lower incidence of diarrhoea were found in the treated group (63.30% vs. 70.71%; P=0.05). Body weight (48.92 kg vs. 46.92 kg; P≤0.05), total concentrate intake (14.77 kg vs. 12.56 kg on dry matter basis; P≤0.05), and heart girth (81.16 cm vs. 78.49 cm; P≤0.05) were significantly higher in T group. The administration of the probiotic during the first month of life improved gut microbiota and increased the growth performance and some biometric parameters of calves.

Keywords : calf; health status; growth performance; intestinal microbial balance; species-specific probiotic

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