The Effects of Amino Acid Supplementations during Weaning on Starter Intake and Growth of Dairy Calves

  • Ranga Appuhamy (Iowa State University)
  • Can Ayhan Kaya (Dicle University)
  • Janaka Wickramasinghe (Iowa State University)


Supplementation of L-glutamine (Gln) at 1.0% of DMI has shown to enhance immune function,alleviate stress and promote growth in weaned piglets. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) particularly leucine are known to promote muscle growth. Those enhancements are critical for calves undergoing weaning particularly from a high volume of milk at an early age. In the present study we examined the effects of a Gln supplement (1.0% of DMI) with or without BCAA on starter intake and growth performance of dairy calves weaned early (35 d of age) from a high milk volume (9.0 L/d).  A separate group of calves not receiving any amino acid supplement served as the control(CTL).  All calves were partially weaned restricting the milk volume to 3.0 L/d at 35 d of age. The amino acids were fed mixing inmilk during the first week of weaning (35 to 42 d). While having 9.0 L of milk, calves consumed zero grain but had average daily gain (ADG) close to 0.9 kg/d. Even though milk volume restriction significantly increased starter intake, it was associated with a significant growth depression that was not alleviated by Glnor Gln plus BCAA during the first week of weaning. During the second week of weaning, calves had ADG that was comparable to pre-weaning growth rates.Regardless of treatments, calves achieved 1.0 kg/d starter intake within 16 dafter partial weaning and thus weaned completely at 51 d of age.  Calves supplemented with Gln or Gln plus BCAA was related to significantly lower starter intake and body weight than CTL postweaning (49 to 70 d).  In conclusion, supplementationof Gln (1% of DMI) alone or with BCAA was not successful in mitigating growth depression associated with weaning. On the other hand, they negatively affected starter intake post-weaning suggesting a lasting impact on mechanisms governing feed intake. The present study demonstrated that 1.0 kg/d starter intake can be achieved at 7 week of age by employing a step-wise weaning scheme for dairy calves fed a high volume of milk.

Keywords: weaning, dairy calves, Branched-chain amino acids, Glutamine

How to Cite:

Appuhamy, R., Kaya, C. A. & Wickramasinghe, J., (2021) “The Effects of Amino Acid Supplementations during Weaning on Starter Intake and Growth of Dairy Calves”, Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 17(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.31274/air.11928

Download PDF



Published on
13 Oct 2021
Peer Reviewed