The effect of milk intake on forage intake and growth of nursing calves. Academic Article uri icon


  • Thirty-nine Holstein steer calves were assigned to one of five treatments at birth and individually fed for 200 d with milk replacer reconstituted to equal the fat and protein concentration of beef cow milk. Treatment levels were the quantities of reconstituted milk fed per day based on lactation curves, which were based on peak milk levels (PML) of 2.72, 5.44, 8.16, 10.88, and 13.6 kg/d, respectively. In addition to reconstituted milk, chopped alfalfa hay was offered ad libitum to allow for maximal voluntary forage consumption. All calves were fed a high-energy diet postweaning until they reached a similar degree of fatness in the 12th rib (4 to 5% chemical fat) as determined by ultrasound. There were differences (P < 0.05) among groups in weaning weight, preweaning ADG, age, and weight at slaughter. During the preweaning phase, there was a linear relationship (P < 0.01) for daily milk and forage DE intake; however, DE intake per unit of BW did not differ across treatments (P = 0.06). Increasing PML resulted in a linear (P < 0.01) decrease in alfalfa hay intake in the preweaning phase, and G:F increased quadratically (P < 0.01). During the postweaning phase, preweaning milk intake had no meaningful effect on postweaning ADG, but overall ADG had a linear relationship (P < 0.01) with preweaning milk level. There was no effect of PML on the 12th-rib lipid percent, marbling score, or quality grade, but protein and fat concentration in the carcass and empty BW increased linearly (P < 0.01) with PML. The group fed at 2.72 kg/d PML was 58 kg lighter (P = 0.03) and required 34 d more (P < 0.01) to reach the predetermined degree of fatness at slaughter than the group fed at 13.6 kg/d PML, suggesting that increased milk production by the dam can decrease the number of days to the slaughter weight at which a similar rib lipid concentration is reached.

published proceedings

  • J Anim Sci

author list (cited authors)

  • Abdelsamei, A. H., Fox, D. G., Tedeschi, L. O., Thonney, M. L., Ketchen, D. J., & Stouffer, J. R.

citation count

  • 32

complete list of authors

  • Abdelsamei, AH||Fox, DG||Tedeschi, LO||Thonney, ML||Ketchen, DJ||Stouffer, JR

publication date

  • April 2005