Sodium Bentonite vs Lignocellulose (ie Opticell plus UF) – Can they be compared??

Sodium Bentonite-based products are widely recommended and incorporated in calf rearing regimes throughout New Zealand.

Sodium bentonite is a high swelling/binding natural clay that is used for its ability to absorb fluid, toxins, and slow the passage of food through the gut of the calf.

Rearers also use sodium bentonite as an attractant to transition calves onto meal quicker – it is thought that the calves are particularly enticed by the sodium (salty flavour).

In some cases bentonite is included in low levels in the milk, but is more routinely offered in a separate tough (ad lib) or sprinkled over calf starter meal.

Opticell plus UF is a naturally derived Lignocellulose Product. ‘Eubiosis’ is the concept of a healthy balance of micro flora in the digestive tract, and recently developed lignocellulose products for calves help to achieve this.

Ultra Fine lignocellulose for inclusion into whole milk or Calf Milk Replacer promotes Eubiosis by supporting natural water absorption in the hind gut and mitigating the incidence of nutritional scours by aiding transitions from milk types (colostrum to vat milk, or CMR), during feeding regime changes i.e. twice daily to once daily.

Although the water holding capacity of ultra-fine lignocellulose is less than bentonite, lignocellulose is an excellent source of fermentable fibre. The prebiotic nature of lignocellulose means it feeds selective, beneficial microorganisms in the hind gut which produce volatile fatty acids (VFAs). Butyric acid (a VFA) plays a key role in supporting water absorption in the hind gut as well as regeneration of gut mucosa, which positively influences faecal quality and helps to mitigate nutritional scours.

Ultra Fine lignocellulose holds in suspension, enabling the rearer to guarantee it’s uptake by adding it to milk rather than relying on ad lib intakes via a trough. Lignocellulose regulates the passage of milk through the digestive tract, supports early intake of feed and improves faecal quality without a ‘bunging up’ effect.

As you can see they have very different mode of actions and outcomes…