Effect of daily concentrate intake at weaning on performance of Belgian Blue double-muscled rearing calves

Leo Fiems, Johan De Boever, Sam De Campeneere, José Vanacker, Daniël De Brabander

    Onderzoeksoutput: Bijdrage aan tijdschriftA1: Web of Science-artikel


    Weaning at a different daily concentrate intake was investigated during a 140-d experimental period, using 54 male and 68 female newborn Belgian Blue double-muscled animals. They were divided into three comparable groups and received milk at 10% of their birth weight up to weaning. Concentrate was levelled off at a maximum daily intake of 3 kg, while grass hay was freely available. Weaning occurred at a daily concentrate intake level (CL) of 0.5, 0.75 and 1.0 kg, respectively. Weaning at an increased CL prolonged the milk-feeding period by 13.1 and 14.6 days, and resulted in a higher pre- and post-weaning growth rate (p <0.05). Daily gain during the entire experimental period averaged 0.84, 0.85 and 0.88 kg for the respective groups (p = 0.065). Daily concentrate intake was not different among groups, with only a small effect of CL on intake around weaning. Early weaning resulted in a significant reduction of hay intake (p = 0.032). Total daily net energy intake increased slightly with a higher CL at weaning, so that energy conversion was slightly improved, amounting to 17.7, 17.6 and 17.4 MJ/kg gain, respectively. Energy balance during the first week after weaning was negative for CL 0.5 kg (-22%), while it was close to 0 for CL 0.75 kg (-2%) or positive for CL 1.0 kg. Most effects of CL at weaning were similar for males and females, but male calves tended to have a higher intake and a faster growth rate than females. It can be concluded that weaning should be delayed until Belgian Blue double-muscled calves consume at least 0.75 kg per day or more for reasons of welfare, although performance was hardly improved by weaning at a daily concentrate intake of more than 0.5 kg per day.
    TijdschriftArchives of Animal Nutrition
    Pagina's (van-tot)397-404
    Aantal pagina's8
    StatusGepubliceerd - 2005

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