The objective of the experiment was to evaluate the effects of steam-flaked corn grains and soybeans on calf health, growth, and selected blood parameters.
Holstein bull calves were purchased from local dairy farms and offered milk, starter diets, and hay, and were then assigned to the experiment at 21 d of age.
Calves were blocked into 3 treatments by birth date and body weight and randomly assigned to receive fresh milk and a commercial pelleted starter containing extruded corn and soybeans (ECS), steam-flaked corn and soybeans (SFCS), or ground corn and soybeans (GCS).
The experiment was conducted with calves from 3 to 13 wk of age. Body weight, calf starter intake, milk intake, total dry matter intake, and body structural growth were not significantly influenced by corn and soybean processing during the study; however, feed efficiency was significantly improved by the SFCS treatment.
Average daily gain generally decreased during the weaning week for all treatments, but did not differ significantly among treatments.
Health incidences for calves fed the SFCS starter were lower than those fed the other 2 treatments.
Calves consuming the SFCS starter had similar average daily gain, milk intake, starter intake, total dry matter intake, and body structure, but had improved feed efficiency when compared with animals consuming the GCS and ECS starters.
The SFCS starter decreased incidence of diarrhoea during the postweaning period and required less veterinary treatment.
These data suggest that the steam-flaking of corn and soybeans can influence the growth performance and the selected blood parameters of calves and that, in this study, the extrusion of corn and soybeans had no beneficial effect on the growth performance of calves.