The objective was to determine relationships between protein and energy consumed from milk replacer and starter and calf growth and first-lactation production of Holstein heifer calves. Milk replacer and starter protein intake and metabolizable energy (ME) intake data were collected from 4,534 Holstein heifer calves for growth and 3,627 Holstein cows for production from birth year of 2004 through 2014. Calves from 3 commercial dairy farms were assigned to 45 different calf research trials at the University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center, Waseca, Minnesota, from 3 to 195 d of life. Calves were moved to heifer growers at 6 mo of age, and calves were returned to their farm of birth a few weeks before calving. Most calves (85%) were fed a 20% crude protein and 20% fat milk replacer at a rate of 0.57 kg/calf daily. Metabolizable energy and protein consumed from milk replacer and starter were calculated for each individual calf for 6 and 8 wk of age. Mixed model analyses were conducted to determine the effect of protein and energy consumed from both milk replacer and starter on calf growth and first-lactation 305-d production of milk, fat, and protein, adjusting for herd, season of birth, year, average daily gain (ADG), and calf trial. Calves with ADG >0.80 kg/d consumed more combined protein and ME than calves with lower ADG. Protein and ME intake from calf starter affected growth more than protein and ME intake from milk replacer because most calves were fed the same fixed amount of milk replacer. Calves born during the fall and winter had greater combined protein and ME intake than calves born during the spring and summer. Milk replacer protein and ME intake did not have a relationship with first-lactation 305-d milk, fat, and protein production. However, starter protein and ME intake during the first 6 and 8 wk of age had a significant positive relationship with first-lactation 305-d milk, fat, and protein production. Consequently, combined protein and combined ME intake had a positive effect on 305-d milk, fat, and protein production. Variance in protein and ME intake was high, suggesting that additional factors affect calf growth during the first 8 wk of life and milk production in first lactation.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This paper is a component of USDA Regional Research Project NC-2042; Management Systems to Improve the Economic and Environmental Sustainability of Dairy Enterprises. The authors express gratitude to the technical staff at the Southern Research and Outreach Center (Waseca, MN) for their assistance in data collection and care of animals. In addition, the authors thank Dairy Records Management Systems (Raleigh, NC) for providing lactation data for farms. Financial support was partially provided for this project by Milk Specialties Global (Eden Prairie, MN) and Hubbard Feeds Inc. (Mankato, MN).
- early-life growth
- first-lactation production
- metabolizable energy
- milk replacer
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article