A total of 60 Friesian x Jersey heifer calves were allocated to a 2×2 factorial design to investigate early life nutrition on growth and production. The first factor was the maternal treatments where dams were offered a low crude protein (7.8% LCP) or moderate crude protein (13.6% MCP) diet for the last 50 days of gestation. The second factor was the calf milk replacer (CMR) allowance to heifer offspring, which was either restricted (RES) or high allowance (HA) allowance (15 or 25% of initial live weight, respectively). All calves were given colostrum for 4 days then, warmed CMR (150 g/L) in two equal feeds between days 5 and 39, after which all calves received the same 15% allowance. Milk intake, liveweight gain and fecal score were recorded for 5 weeks. Calves were weaned off milk at 8 weeks of age. The HA treatment improved weaning weight (88 vs 79±1.4 kg; P<0.001) and overall ADG pre-weaning (0.9 vs 0.8±0.02 kg/day; P<0.001) compared to RES. There was no effect of maternal diet on pre-weaning growth or fecal score. There was limited statistical evidence of a long-term effect of early life nutrition on milk yield, though maternal nutrition appeared to be more important than pre-weaning nutrition on future milk production.

Y, Moonsan, C Thomas, SA McCoard, KJ Hammond, GR Edwards, and RH Bryant

New Zealand Journal of Animal Science and Production, Volume 82, Online, 99-103, 2022
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