Effect of dam factors on milk intake and performance of Belgian Blue suckling calves

L. O. Fiems, W. Van Caelenbergh, Sam De Campeneere, D. L. De Brabander

    Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Milk intake data were collected at 4-week intervals from Belgian Blue double-muscled (BBDM) suckling calves up to 16 weeks after birth. Dams were fed at 100%, 90%, 80% or 70% of their energy requirements during a 140-day indoor period from the beginning of December to the end of April (restriction period). Afterwards, cows were turned out on pasture (re-alimentation period). Mean calving date was 3 June, but parturitions were spread over the year. A total of 521 individual milk intake (IMI) and 120 average daily milk intake (AMI, mean of IMI) records were collected. IMI amounted to 7.062.2 kg/day and was not affected by energy level during the indoor period. It was highest in May and June. Calves born out of multiparous cows consumed more milk than those born out of primiparous cows (7.4 v. 6.2kg per day; P50.001), while intake tended to be higher in female than in male calves (7.2 v. 6.8 kg per day; P50.044). Dam age at calving, parity, post partum weight and body condition were only weakly correlated with AMI (r<0.4). AMI was correlated with pre-weaning live-weight gain (r50.807) and weaning weight (r50.783), with a slightly higher correlation for male than for female calves. Daily live-weight gain during the suckling period was increased by 79 g per extra kg daily milk intake on average, and by 86 and 74 g, respectively, for male and female calves. Calf solid feed intake was low, even when milk intake was low. In terms of net energy intake, milk was only substituted for solid feed by 29%. It can be concluded from the calf intake that milk production in BBDM cows is comparable with that of cows from other beef breeds, but its variation is considerable, complicating an accurate estimation.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalAnimal
    Volume2
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)135-140
    Number of pages6
    ISSN1751-7311
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1-Jan-2008

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