Effects of mannan oligosaccharide or antibiotics in neonatal diets on health and growth of dairy calves

A. J. Heinrichs, C. M. Jones, B. S. Heinrichs

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144 Scopus citations


Seventy-two Holstein calves were used to study the effect of feeding antibiotics or mannan oligosaccharides (MOS) in milk replacer. Calves were fed a 20% protein, 20% fat milk replacer containing antibiotics (400 g/ton neomycin + 200 g/ton oxytetracycline), MOS (4 g of Bio-Mos/d), or no additive (control) for 5 wk. Milk replacer was reconstituted to 12.5% dry matter and fed at 12% of birth weight during wk 1 and 14% of birth weight in wk 2 to 5. Fecal scores were monitored 3 times per week; body weight, heart girth, withers height, hip height, and hip width were measured at birth and weekly to 6 wk of age. Addition of MOS or antibiotics increased the probability of normal scores for fecal fluidity, scours severity, and fecal consistency as compared to control calves during the course of the study. Consumption of calf starter increased at a faster rate in calves fed MOS, and these calves consumed more calf starter after weaning (wk 6), than those fed antibiotic. No treatment differences in growth measures, total blood protein, or blood urea nitrogen were detected during the trial. Addition of MOS or antibiotics to milk replacer improved fecal scores in calves. Feed intake was improved in MOS-fed calves compared to antibiotic-fed calves, but this difference did not result in growth differences during the experimental period. The results suggest that antibiotics in milk replacers can be replaced with compounds such as mannan oligosaccharides to obtain similar calf performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4064-4069
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of dairy science
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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