Effects of inulin and lactulose on the intestinal morphology of calves

S. Masanetz, N. Wimmer, C. Plitzner, E. Limbeck, W. Preißinger, M. W. Pfaffl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


For some time now prebiotics have been proposed to improve health by stimulation of beneficial bacteria in the intestine of humans and animals. The current study is aiming to show effects of feeding of either 2% inulin or 2% lactulose in milk replacer on performance and intestinal morphology of male Holstein-Friesian calves. After 20 weeks of feeding inulin led to significantly higher daily weight gains than lactulose while control animals ranged between the experimental feedings. Ingestion of milk replacer was reduced in lactulose treated animals. Additionally differences of villus height in jejunum (P = 0.07) and ileum (P = 0.03) could be found with an increase for lactulose treated animals and a decrease for inulin treated animals. In ileum the density of proliferative epithelial cells tended to be lower in inulin treated and higher in lactulose treated animals (P = 0.08). Both inulin and lactulose tended to decrease the quantity of goblet cells in the tips of ileal villi (P = 0.07). Both prebiotics can affect performance and intestinal morphology of calves and may as such affect animal health. But effects differ between substances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)739-744
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2010


  • calves
  • intestine
  • inulin
  • lactulose
  • morphology
  • prebiotics


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