Supplementing forage to preweaned calves has shown some positive effects, such as stabilization of the rumen environment, limiting abnormal behaviors, and increasing starter intake. However, dry forages can be limited and cost prohibitive in some areas of the world. Contrastingly, ensiled forages are commonly found on most dairy farms and are low cost. Therefore, the objective of this review was to focus specifically on ensiled forages and how they affect preweaned calves. There are few studies that have focused on providing ensiled forages and most of them have used corn silage. Although impacts on rumen development and nutrient digestibility have been variable, feed intake and efficiency were not affected in most reviewed studies. Growth and health parameters were also either not affected or improved. Therefore, with careful silage feeding management, the supplementation of ensiled feeds may be used to provide similar benefits of dry forages to preweaned dairy calves.
Part of the book: Advanced Studies in the 21st Century Animal Nutrition