The effect of ruminal fluid preparations on the growth and health of newborn, milk-fed dairy calves. Academic Article uri icon


  • The objective of this study was to determine the effect of oral doses of ruminal fluid (RF) on the growth and health of newborn, milk-fed heifer dairy calves (0 to 6 wk of age). Calves given 8 ml of RF each day until weaning gained more weight and had fewer scours than controls that did not receive RF. Because RF that was exposed to oxygen or was autoclaved also gave a response, it is unlikely that the preparations were acting as a probiotic. When the RF was centrifuged to separate the cells (RFC) from the fluid (RFS), both fractions had similar activity, and this result indicated that the response was not nutritional; that is, 1) RFC supplied a small amount of protein (approximately 8 mg/d), but RFS had much less protein, and 2) RFS had volatile fatty acid, but RFC had little if any volatile fatty acid. However, both RFS and RFC had bacterial polysaccharide, and bacterial polysaccharide has strong antigenic properties. In the first three studies, treated calves were given RF preparations each day until weaning (6 wk), but a subsequent experiment indicated that calves given autoclaved RF for only 5 d (d 1 to 5) also had greater body weight gains during the first 2 wk of life and fewer scours than untreated controls. Given that the dosage of RF was small and the material could be autoclaved to prevent disease transmission, RF supplementation could be a practical tool for improving calf health.

published proceedings

  • J Dairy Sci

author list (cited authors)

  • Muscato, T. V., Tedeschi, L. O., & Russell, J. B.

citation count

  • 25

complete list of authors

  • Muscato, TV||Tedeschi, LO||Russell, JB

publication date

  • March 2002