Calf and Beef Research Facility Calf and Beef Research Facility

Calf and Beef Research Facility

The Calf and Beef Research Facility is located in Boxmeer, the Netherlands, at the same location as our Swine Research Facility. This facility makes it possible to simulate the global diversity of calf and beef farms around the world in terms of climate, breed, temperature, humidity and housing conditions.

History of the facility

The construction of the facility started in 2014, and it was officially opened in April 2016 by Knut Nesse, former CEO of Nutreco and Louise Fresco, chair of Wageningen University. The event was attended by colleagues, industry partners and academics from more than 40 countries.

State-of-the art equipment

The facility enables us to house the calves in individual units that simulate a 1,000-cow farm or in group housed units. In both areas, we can fully control the environment to simulate the diverse conditions on farms around the globe. The facility is equipped with electronic feeding stations and stations for calf milk replacer, that enable us to continually monitor measures such as feed, milk and water intake and study intake patterns. The facility also makes automatic weighing and sample collection possible.

In the group-housed beef unit, we are able to house different breeds in a controlled environment. All of the pens have electronic feeding stations for forage, concentrates and minerals to measure intake and intake patterns. In addition, there are metabolism units to intensively monitor animal health.

Innovation at Trouw Nutrition Calf and Beef Research Facility

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Targeting the Hindgut to Improve Health and Performance in Cattle

An adequate gastrointestinal barrier function is essential to preserve animal health and well-being. Suboptimal gut health results in the translocation of contents from the gastrointestinal lumen across the epithelium, inducing local and systemic inflammatory responses. Inflammation is characterized by high energetic and nutrient requirements, which diverts resources away from production. Further, barrier function defects and inflammation have been both associated with several metabolic diseases in dairy cattle and liver abscesses in feedlots. The gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to several factors intrinsic to the productive cycles of dairy and beef cattle. Among them, high grain diets, commonly fed to support lactation and growth, are potentially detrimental for rumen health due to their increased fermentability, representing the main risk factor for the development of acidosis. Furthermore, the increase in dietary starch associated with such rations frequently results in an increase in the bypass fraction reaching distal sections of the intestine. The effects of high grain diets in the hindgut are comparable to those in the rumen and, thus, hindgut acidosis likely plays a role in grain overload syndrome. However, the relative contribution of the hindgut to this syndrome remains unknown. Nutritional strategies designed to support hindgut health might represent an opportunity to sustain health and performance in bovines.
by M. V. Sanz-Fernandez on 05/10/2020
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Tonicity of oral rehydration solutions affects water, mineral and acid–base balance in calves with naturally occurring diarrhoea

Recommendations for composition of oral rehydration solutions (ORS) for calves, particularly concerning Na+, glucose, and their combined effect on tonicity, are not in line with guidelines for humans. Thus, this study aimed to determine the effect of ORS tonicity on water, mineral and acid–base balance. Seventy‐two calves were selected based on the severity of dehydration and blood base excess (BE) on day 0. Five calves that did not develop diarrhoea were removed post‐inclusion from the study. Calves were allocated to blocks of four animals based on blood BE on day 1. Within each block, calves were randomly assigned to one of four treatments: (a) hypotonic ORS with low Na+ and lactose (HYPO); (b) isotonic ORS with low Na+and glucose (ISO); (c) hypertonic ORS with high Na+ and glucose (HYPER); and (d) control consisting of warm water including 5 g/L of whey powder (CON). Treatments were administered twice daily over a 3‐day period, in which calves were offered 2.0 L of treatment at 1300 and 2100 hr. Calves were fed 2.5 L of milk replacer at 0700 and 1630 hr from day 1 to 3 and 3.0 L from day 4 to 5, and had access to water. Calves were monitored for 5 days in which measurements included intakes, BW, blood sampling and collection of faeces on day 1 and urine from day 1 to 3. All ORS treatments maintained normal serum Na+, whereas CON did not. Calves in the HYPER group had lower blood pH and greater faecal Na+ losses than HYPO and ISO. Plasma expansion relative to baseline was higher in low tonicity ORS (+4.8%) when compared with CON (+1.0%). Urine osmolality was 30% higher in HYPER calves. In this experiment, low tonicity ORS were more effective at restoring water, mineral and acid–base balance than the hypertonic ORS.
by J. N. Wilms on 03/07/2020
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Urea supplementation in rumen and post-rumen for cattle fed a low-quality tropical forage

We evaluated the differences between the supplementation of urea in rumen and/or abomasum on forage digestion, N metabolism and urea kinetics in cattle fed a low-quality tropical forage. Five Nellore heifers were fitted with rumen and abomasum fistulas and assigned to a Latin square design. The treatments were control, continuous infusion of urea in the abomasum (AC), continuous infusion of urea in the rumen, a pulse dose of urea in the rumen every 12 h (PR) and a combination of PR and AC. The control exhibited the lowest (P < 0·10) faecal and urinary N losses, which were, overall, increased by supplementation. The highest urinary N losses (P < 0·10) were observed when urea was either totally or partially supplied as a ruminal pulse dose. The rumen N balance was negative for the control and when urea was totally supplied in the abomasum. The greatest microbial N production (P < 0·10) was obtained when urea was partially or totally supplied in the abomasum. Urea supplementation increased (P < 0·10) the amount of urea recycled to the gastrointestinal tract and the amount of urea-N returned to the ornithine cycle. The greatest (P < 0·10) amounts of urea-N used for anabolism were observed when urea was totally and continuously infused in the abomasum. The continuous abomasal infusion also resulted in the highest (P < 0·10) assimilation of microbial N from recycling. The continuous releasing of urea throughout day either in the rumen or abomasum is able to improve N accretion in the animal body, despite mechanism responsible for that being different.
by C. V. R. de Oliveira on 24/06/2020
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