Supplementation of butyrate
Raising replacement heifers accounts for about 15 to 20% of expenses on a dairy farm. A good rumen development is necessary to support growth performance and feed efficiency, which can reduce the cost of replacement heifers.
For the young calves, additional butyrate will improve the development of their gastrointestinal tract and promote secretion of enzymes leading to improved digestibility of fat, lactose and protein. Adding butyrate to their diet, improves feed efficiency and growth, which is also essential for later performance. Next to that, antimicrobial effects of butyrate against different pathogens are widely reported and butyrate use also tends to lower the incidence of diarrhea (scours).
The impact of butyrate on the calf can vary depending on the source of dietary butyrate being used (Figure 1). When butyrate is supplemented in liquid feed, which generally bypasses the rumen via the esophageal reflex, butyrate predominately affects the abomasum and small intestine. If butyrate is added to solid feed, it primarily affects the rumen, unless it is protected by micro-encapsulation providing a slow-release further in the intestinal tract, in the abomasum and intestines.