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Feeding milk supplemented with Ulva sp., Ascophyllum nodosum, or Saccharina latissima to preweaning dairy calves: Effects on growth, gut microbiota, gut histomorphology, and short-chain fatty acids in digesta

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Emerging knowledge shows the importance of preweaning nutrition on programming the gastrointestinal microbiome and development of the gut barrier function. The aim of this study was to assess the effects of supplementing cow milk with either intact dried Ulva sp., Ascophyllum nodosum, or Saccharina latissima on growth performance and several gut health parameters of preweaning dairy calves. Forty male Holstein calves were selected based on birth weight (41 ± 4 kg) and plasma Brix percentage (≥8.7%) at d 2 of life. From d 2 to d 42 of life, the control calves (n = 10) were fed with cow milk (8 L/d) without seaweed supplementation, and the experimental calves were fed with cow milk (8 L/d) supplemented with either Ulva sp. (n = 10), A. nodosum (n = 10), or S. latissima (n = 10) at a concentration of 50 g/8 L of cow milk per day (i.e., 5% on a dry matter basis). Calves were weighed every week, and body weight gain and calf starter intake were monitored weekly. At d 42 ± 3 of life, calves were slaughtered. The organ weights and digesta pH from the reticulorumen, mid- and end small intestine, and mid-colon were recorded. A tissue sample (5 cm) collected from the mid-small intestine was analyzed for histomorphology. Digesta from the mid-small intestine and mid-colon were analyzed for lactobacilli, Escherichia coli, and Enterobacteriaceae, and short-chain fatty acid profile. Weight gain of the calves was not affected by seaweed supplementation. Proportional organ weights were not affected by seaweed supplementation except for reticulorumen weight, which was higher in calves fed Ulva sp. Both the mid-small intestinal and mid-colonic digesta populations of lactobacilli, Enterobacteriaceae, and E. coli, as well as the mid-small intestinal histomorphology in seaweed-supplemented calves were not different from control calves. However, acetic acid proportion in mid-colonic digesta was increased in calves fed Ulva sp. and A. nodosum, whereas butyric acid proportion was decreased compared with the control calves. Digesta pH in mid- and end small intestine and mid-colon were not affected, whereas ruminal pH was increased in calves fed Ulva sp. compared with the control calves. In conclusion, intact dried seaweed supplementation did not improve the growth or selected gut health parameters (i.e., histomorphology, digesta pH, bacteria, and short-chain fatty acids) in preweaning Holstein calves.
TidsskriftJournal of Dairy Science
Sider (fra-til)12117-12126
Antal sider10
StatusUdgivet - nov. 2021

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