Influence of weaning age on rumen development in calves
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A neonatal calf is a pre-ruminant animal. The milk will bypass the rumen, reticulum and omasum by way of the reticular and omasal grooves and enters the abomasum. The development of the rumen is related to the diet of the calves. The intake of hay and concentrate is essential for the calf to become a functional ruminant. Early consumption of hay and concentrate is essential for successful early weaning. There are different weaning protocols that can be used, and every protocol has its own weaning age. The aim of this study was 1) to determine the effect of weaning age on rumen development and 2) try to relate it with the growth of the calves by using the chest girth. 18 Holstein calves were used in this experiment. All calves were weaned at 64 days of age. Twice a week the chest girth was measured and reported in the personal records of the calves. Three to five weeks after weaning the calves were euthanized and rumen development was assessed in 9 rumen areas by measuring the length and density per square centimeter of the rumen papillae. Weaning at 9 weeks of age has a negative impact on rumen development compared with weaning at 12 weeks of age. But there was no correlation found between the length and density of the papillae and the weight of the calves. So weaning at 9 weeks instead of 12 weeks has no influence on the growth of the calves.