Milk Bar Research 2014
In 2014 an exciting, first of its kind research project was undertaken to investigate the effects of slow feeding vs fast feeding on young calves.
The research team took 60 calves from the same farm and housed them in groups of ten.
Three of the groups were fed with the controlled flow Milk Bar teat and the other three groups were fed from a faster teat with an internal valve which is commonly seen worldwide.
The results were so compelling that we had it peer reviewed and the findings are now published in the Journal of Applied Animal Nutrition.
Calves fed from the controlled flow Milk Bar Teat
These calves were fed from the controlled Milk Bar Teat.
They were very happy and contented after feeding. They did not cross suckle and their developing teats and udders remain intact and in perfect condition.
Calves fed from a fast flow teat
These calves were fed from the faster teat fitted with a valve. They cross suckled after feeding and there was extensive damage to the developing teats. Most concerning was the removal of the keratin plug which leaves these calves open to infection.
Cross Suckling and Udder Damage
It was immediately apparent to the research team that the calves fed on the faster teat cross suckled vigorously after feeding while the calves fed on the flow controlled Milk Bar Teats did not cross suckle and were very settled after feeding.
Cross suckling damages the developing teat and udder. The udder is the business end of the production cow and early damage can have lasting affects that can impact on the cows future production.
In 1942 Shalm noted “Calves suckling on each other can affect the development of the juvenile udder. This in conjunction with the transmission of mastitis pathogens is prone to lead to heifer mastitis”.
Digestibility and Curding
The digestibility analysis showed significant differences in milk curding and the adsorption of lactose in 14 day old calves. Calves fed with Milk Bar Teats had very little lactose present in their system (it had been absorbed) while calves fed quickly from the faster teat had very high levels of lactose present.
Lactose is a sugar and the ideal food to grow bacteria. The calves fed from the faster teat have high levels of lactose present in their system and are at increased risk of diarrhoea. The reduced digestibility impacts weight gain.
Calves fed with a controlled flow Milk Bar Teat
Thick and even curding in the calf fed from the controlled Milk Bar Teat.
Analysis showed these calves had 3mg of lactose remaining in the abomasum and very little lactose through the intestines.
The lactose had been absorbed into the blood stream, boosting calorie intake.
With minimal lactose in the intestines to feed pathogens, these calves are less likely to suffer from nutritional diarrhoea.
Calves fed with a fast flow teat
Insufficient curding resulting with lumps of coagulated milk in a watery liquid was present in calves fed from the faster teat.
Analysis showed these calves had 12mg of lactose present in the abomasum and high levels of lactose through the entire intestinal tract.
Reduced lactose absorption reduces the energy required for growth. High levels of lactose in the intestines feeds pathogens and puts these calves at a high risk of nutritional diarrhoea.
Calves that were fed from the controlled Milk Bar Teat groups had higher daily weight gains and at the end of the 42 day trial period were 10.68% heavier than the calves fed on the faster teat with an internal valve.
Because of the correct curding calves are able to derive more nutrition and absorb more lactose. This is most likely why they were heavier than their counterparts.