The first three months of life is the most critical period for the young calf, and nutrition plays an essential role for a successful weaning program. The effects of starter feed physical form have been widely investigated in the last decades, but results are variable and often inconsistent. We compared the impact of texturized and pelleted starters on growth performances during the artificial pre-weaning period on replacement female dairy calves. A total of 16 calves were divided in two independent groups, fed with pelleted or texturized starter and monitored from 2 to 44 days of life. Morphometric traits as well as health status, growth performances, feed intake and efficiency were recorded weekly. An interesting significance (p=0.013) was found for the weight increment, that starting from 5th week showed higher values in animals fed with texturized rather than pelleted feedstuff, although no differences were obtained for the feed efficiency. Despite the lack of significant differences, the trends observed for weight increment and health status, suggest some advantages in the use of texturized feedstuff during the pre-weaning period.
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