Effect of pre-weaning feeding regimens on post-weaning growth performance of Sahiwal calves

S.A. Bhattia1 c1, A. Alia1, H. Nawaza1, D. McGilla2, M. Sarwara1, M. Afzala3, M.S. Khana4, Ehsanullaha5, M.A. Amera6, R. Busha7, P.C. Wynna2 and H.M. Warriacha2

a1 Institute of Animal Nutrition and Feed Technology, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan

a2 E H Graham Centre, NSW Industry and Investment and Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, Australia

a3 Pakistan Agricultural Research Council, Islamabad, Pakistan

a4 Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan

a5 Department of Agronomy, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan

a6 Livestock Production Research Institute, Bahadurnagar, Okara, Pakistan

a7 Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Camden, Australia


The objective of the study was to assess the post-weaning growth response of Sahiwal calves reared on four different pre-weaning dietary regimens. The four diets were: (a) whole cow's milk, starter ration (SR; CP = 20%, total digestible nutrients (TDN) = 72%) and Berseem hay (H; Egyptian clover; CP = 21%, TDN = 63%); (b) whole cow's milk + H; (c) milk replacer (MR; reconstituted to supplier specification; Sprayfo®) + SR + H; and (d) MR + H. The protein and fat percentages of reconstituted MR were 2.22 and 1.84, respectively. Milk or MR were fed at the rate of 10% of the calves’ body weight (BW) until 56 days of age, and then withdrawn gradually until weaned completely by 84 days of age. The average initial BW of calves in groups A, B, C and D were 56.3 ± 1.0, 47.5 ± 1.0, 40.4 ± 1.0 and 30.3 ± 1.0 kg, respectively. Initially, there were 12 calves in each group with six of each sex; however, one male calf died from each of groups B and C and were not replaced. During the post-weaning period, 13 to 24 weeks, the calves were fed a single total mixed ration ad libitum based on maize, canola meal, wheat straw and molasses containing 16% CP and 70% TDN. Daily feed intake and weekly BW gains were recorded. The data were analyzed by MIXED model analysis procedures using the statistical program SAS. The intake of calves as percent of their BW, feed conversion ratio and cost per kg of BW gain were not different (P > 0.05) across treatments. The daily gain at 24 weeks of age for the pre-weaning treatments A, B, C and D were 746 ± 33, 660 ± 33, 654 ± 33 and 527 ± 33 g/day and the final liveweights of calves were 119 ± 4.2, 102 ± 4.2, 95 ± 4.2 and 75 ± 4.2 kg, respectively. Gains were influenced significantly (P < 0.05) by pre-weaning treatments. The calves fed MR and H only during the pre-weaning period were unable to catch up post weaning with calves on other dietary treatments. The calves fed whole milk from birth at the rate of 10% of liveweight together with concentrates had higher weaning weight and superior growth rate post weaning as well. Thus, pre-weaning feeding was important for higher weaning weights and superior growth rates post weaning.

(Received June 07 2011)

(Accepted January 06 2012)

(Online publication February 10 2012)


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