Objective—To identify any adverse effects on health or performance in young dairy calves fed clinoptilolite mixed with milk replacer.
Animals—26 male Holstein calves (1 to 7 days old).
Procedures—Twice daily for 28 days, calves were fed milk replacer with no clinoptilolite (control group; n = 8), 0.5% clinoptilolite (low-dosage group; 9), or 2% clinoptilolite (high-dosage group; 9); each calf consumed approximately 12% of its body weight (based on the replacer solids in the milk replacer mixture)/d. For each calf, subjective health assessments, weight and rectal temperature measurements, and CBC and serum biochemical analyses were performed at intervals. All calves underwent necropsy.
Results—2 calves were euthanized during the experiment because of bronchopneumonia or enteritis. Body weight and average daily gain did not differ among treatment groups. The percentage of monocytes and serum total protein concentration in the low-dosage group were higher than values in the control and high-dosage groups. Compared with values for either clinoptilolite-treated group, BUN concentration was greater in the control group. Serum globulin concentration differed significantly among groups (2.77, 2.50, and 2.36 g/dL in the low-dosage, control, and high-dosage groups, respectively). At necropsy, gross lesions associated with clinoptilolite treatment were not detected in any of the calves.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Even under stressful conditions, clinoptilolite fed at low or high dosages did not affect the performance of dairy calves and had no negative effect on WBC count and blood metabolite concentrations and enzyme activities. Clinoptilolite ingestion was not associated with treatment-specific gross changes.