Document Type : Original Article


Animal Production Research Institute, Ministry of Agriculture, Dokki, Giza, Egypt.


The objective of the present study was to evaluate the productive performance and economic efficiency for pre- and post-weaning buffalo calves fed milk replacer (MR) at levels of 9, 10 and 11% of their body weight in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd groups, respectively. Fifteen buffalo calves of average live body weight (LBW) 38.59±1.55 kg were chosen and separated from their dams within 2 h of birth. Calves were fed twice daily at the rate of 10% of their LBW on dam colostrum for the first three days and then the whole buffalo milk for seven days. Consecutively, calves were divided depending on their body weight into three groups with average body weight of 41.89±1.46 kg at the beginning of the experimental period (10 day initial age). The obtained results showed that increasing the level of milk replacer in the daily meal of suckling calves from 9%  up to 11% of their body weight led to in parallel way to significant (P<0.05) decrease in solid feeds of starter, berseem hay (BH) and rice straw (RS). Calves in all experimental groups reached LBW over a range (87.35-94.56 kg) at weaning age (15 wk), being the heaviest was occurred with G3, while calves in G1 showed the lightest ones, being significant differences among dietary treatments. Total and daily gain from initial-18 wk were significant higher (P<0.05) in G2 than those of G1, but being similar with those found with G3. The digestibility of all nutrients as well as the feeding values (TDN and DCP) did not significantly different among the dietary treatments (different levels of MR).   On the other hand, Values of PCV, Hb and RBCs were the highest (P<0.05), while WBCs was the lowest (P<0.05) in G2. Concentrations of IgG, IgM and IgA in blood serum were significant higher (P<0.05) with G2 than those of the other dietary treatments. Likewise, most blood metabolites were also markedly higher with G2 than those of G1 and G3 which have the low or high level of MR, respectively. Comparatively the values of liver enzymes and the concentration of thyroid hormones (T4) for low level-MR (G1) were mostly significant (P<0.001) higher than those of mid MR level (G2) and insignificant higher than those of the high MR level (G3).  It could be concluded that, using milk replacer at 10% of their live body weight had the improved growth performances of suckling buffalo calves as well as recognized highest economic feed efficiency as compared to those reared on the same milk replacer at levels of 9 or 11%.  This may help farmers to keep up and care of suckling buffalo calves and not sell it, and such regime could help to alleviate the problem of milk and beef shortage in Egypt.