The effects of feeding fermented soybean meal in calf starter on growth and performance of dairy calves
The use of soybean meal in animal diets is primarily limited to adult animals due to the inefficient digestibility of soy proteins by young animals and the susceptibility of young animals to antinutritional compounds in soybeans that are either not properly processed or undercooked. The objective of this study was to evaluate the suitability of fermented soybean meal for use in dairy calf starter diets in place of soybean meal. Growth rates, weaning age, and health and immunological parameters were obtained to evaluate the effects of feeding fermented soybean meal in place of soybean meal in dairy calf starter diets.
The experiment was conducted using 66 dairy bull calves that were randomly assigned to either the control diet, containing soybean meal as the primary source of protein in the starter diet, or the treatment diet, containing fermented soybean meal in place of soybean meal as the primary source of protein in the starter diet. Weekly weight gains, total weight gained, attitude, appetite, and fecal scores, and immunological parameters all showed no significant differences between the calves on the control and treatment diets. Weaning age was older for calves on the fermented soybean meal in comparison to the soybean meal based starter diet (P=0.0422). This data suggests that fermented soybean meal based starter diets are similar to soybean meal based diets and that that fermented soybean meal could replace soybean meal without any adverse affects on growth or digestive processes.