There are a few obvious differences between bottles and pails. Empty pails can be stacked for transport and storage, and pails can hold a greater volume of liquids than most bottles. On the other hand, bottles let the calf consume milk in a more natural position and at a more natural rate. This publication looks at the relationships between feeding method and calf anatomy, physiology, nutrition and feeding management. Research evidence is provided wherever possible and includes:
Effects on the esophageal groove, a muscular fold between the esophagus and the rumen which closes when milk and milk replacer are consumed. This allows milk to move directly to the abomasum for digestion instead of flowing into the rumen. Feeding methods can influence groove closure, resulting in potentially undesirable effects.
Effects on Digestion. Feeding method influences the rate of feed intake and how effectively milk is digested in the abomasum.
Effects on Animal Health. Differences in frequency, severity and duration of diarrhea have been reported in several studies looking at health effects associated with different milk feeding methods.
Physiological and Behavioral Effects. How a calf consumes milk or milk replacer affects its heart rate during and after a meal as well as its behavior in the pen.
Feed Delivery and Clean-up. Neither feed delivery system is inherently simpler, easier or more sanitary than the other. Even, so, certain circumstance tend to favor adoption of one feeding system over the other. The system employed can have an effect on the spread of disease and nutrient consistency.