Livestock contributed 58.6% of agriculture value added and 11.6% to national GDP during 2015-16. Calf rearing is a cost intensive segment of the livestock industry. First 3-4 weeks of age are the most crucial time of their life when they undergo a change from simple stomach to compound stomach. During this phase, opportunistic pathogens attacks on them cause severe diarrhea and pneumonia which result in poor growth and economic losses due to high cost of treatment and death at early age of life. Mortality at early age varies from 8.7-64% throughout world. To minimize such losses, low doses of antibiotics/antimicrobial agents are administered which results in resistant pathogens and deposition of drug residues in animal meat. An alternative to these low doses of drug administration is therefore, mandatory. Previous studies with use of probiotics, prebiotics and phytobiotics suggest variable outcome regarding growth performance.
To minimize the losses, Punjab Agricultural Research Board (PARB) took initiative to solve these problems during calf rearing at early stage of life, to enhance the growth performance of calves, decreasing the mortality rate at early age and to alleviate the poverty of farmers. PARB funded the project to the Department of Physiology, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore to develop a solution of this problem. For this, distillery yeast sludge (DYS) was taken as a potential candidate. Distillery yeast sludge is a waste by-product of sugarcane industry and yeast cell wall acts as prebiotic.
About 1300 tons of DYS is disposed of every year that leads to environmental pollution. A trial was conducted by the Department of Physiology, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore on male cattle calves to evaluate the growth performance of animals with an aim to minimize the disease incidences and mortality during early life of calves and to improve the growth of animals. Yeast sludge was supplemented in milk to calves at a dose of 2g/day and 4g/day. There was improved growth of animals by 15% when DYS was supplemented to calves. Faecal scouring of animals was improved which demonstrates the low incidence of diarrhea at early age of life. Results demonstrate improved feed efficiency, which results in increased body weight gain.