30 van Keulen.pdf (617.26 kB)

The effect of arginine supplementation and milk allowance on small intestinal development in pre-weaning calves

Download (617.26 kB)
journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-03, 18:29 authored by Pascal van Keulen, Anna Welboren, Ajmal KhanAjmal Khan, Frederik Knol, Jan Dijkstra, Sue McCoardSue McCoard
The development of the gastrointestinal tract plays a key role in the health and growth of neonatal calves. The present experiment was designed to evaluate the effects of arginine (Arg) or glutamine (Gln) supplementation and two levels of milk allowance on the organ and histomorphological development of the small intestine in pre-weaning calves. Sixty mixed-sex Friesian×Jersey calves (3-5 days of age) were offered whole milk powder (125 g/L, 26% fat, 26% protein) at either high (20% of arrival BW) or low (10% of arrival BW) milk allowance without or with Arg or Gln (at 1% of milk DM). After 30 days on the diets, all calves were slaughtered to collect tissues for examination of small intestine development. Small intestine development was enhanced through increasing villus growth at a higher supplementation (5.0 g/d), but not at a lower level of supplementation (2.8 g/d) of both Arg and Gln in the duodenum and jejunum. The resulting increase in surface area may be important to enhance intestinal feed digestion and nutrient absorption and, therefore, growth performance. The number of goblet cells was increased by the amino acid supplementation, positively influencing intestinal integrity which is important for gut barrier function and calf health. In summary, these results indicate that dietary Arg and Gln supplementation of pre-weaning calves enhanced intestinal functionality, integrity and barrier function in the small intestine either through increased cell growth/proliferation or reduced levels of cellular atrophy.


Rights statement

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


  • English

Does this contain Māori information or data?

  • No


New Zealand Society of Animal Production (NZSAP)

Journal title

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production




van Keulen, P., Welboren, A. C., Khan, M. A., Knol, F. W., Dijkstra, J., & McCoard, S. A. (2017). The effect of arginine supplementation and milk allowance on small intestinal development in pre-weaning calves. Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, 77, 88–90.


Core Funding;

Contract number


Job code


Usage metrics


    Ref. manager