The use of acidified milk has recently become common in Finnish calf rearing. This study was made in 1998 and 1999 on the research farms of the University of Helsinki, to find out the suitability of the sour milk feeding method in the Finnish calf rearing system. On the first farm, the experimental calves, which were group housed, had free access to milk, which was acidified with formic acid, while the control calves received a limited amount of milk. On the second farm, the milk intake of individually housed calves in both feeding groups (sour milk and milk) was limited. Milk, hay and concentrate intake was measured, the increase of weight was calculated, and the general condition of the calves assessed. Serum and whole blood values were also monitored from newborn until 12 weeks of age. This study confirms that the system was easy to implement in small groups and the daily weight gain was good, but the amount of the consumed milk was high, and the calves were consuming very little dry feed at weaning. There were no significant differences in the immunoglobulin levels, physiological development or health between the two groups. However, the ad libitum feeding of milk requires accuracy and the observation of behavior and health of the calves is very important.
The objective of this study was to determine the effect of an anionic diet (chloride and sulphur salts) on mineral metabolism, acid-base status and udder oedema of dairy cows fed fresh grass based diets during the dry period. This paper concentrates on Ca-metabolism, but the whole material has been published elsewhere (Tauriainen et al 2001). Eighteen non-lactating, pregnant Friesian cows were divided randomly into two groups according to their expected calving date. The first group (anion group) was fed a diet with cation-anion balance of –41 mEq/kg dry matter. The other group (control group) was fed a diet in which the cation-anion balance was +254 mEq/kg DM.
Cows received fresh grass, hay and concentrate mixture until calving. In the anion group, urinary pH decreased and urinary Ca excretion increased markedly. Blood Ca2+ and plasma Catot stayed more stable at parturition, but the difference was not statistically significant. Two control cows became hypocalcemic post partum and were treated.