Milk and milk products are a more expensive source of dietary nutrients than pasture and cereal based supplements. Therefore restricting milk intake could reduce the cost of rearing replacement cattle. Friesian calves (n=60) were allocated to three balanced treatment groups receiving a High (29.8 kg), Medium (21.8 kg) or Low (16.6 kg) allowance of milk replacer (MR). Calves offered the Low allowance were weaned from MR at day 42, while the other two groups were weaned from MR at day 49 of the trial. Calves were weighed at days 0, 49, 70 and 119 following a 12 hour fast. The liveweight gain of the High group was greater (P<0.05) during days 0-49 and 49-119 than the Medium and Low groups. The calves on the Medium and Low MR allowance were 3 kg lighter on day 49 and 7 kg lighter on day 119 than those of the High MR allowance. Differences in growth rates between treatment groups prior to day 49 were smaller than would be expected from the large difference in metabolisable energy intake from MR. Furthermore, reducing MR allowance did not increase meal intake as was expected. It is likely that the calves partially compensated for a lower MR intake by increasing pasture dry matter intake. When choosing to restrict the level of nutrition offered to the young calf, the effect on animal performance both before and after weaning must be recognised.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 57, , 179-181, 1997
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