Calves on an intensified milk-replacer program went on to produce more milk than conventionally fed calves.

Calves that followed an intensified milk-replacer program went on to produce more milk during their first lactation than calves fed a conventional milk replacer, according to University of Illinois research. The findings were presented recently at the American Dairy Science Association annual meeting.

The researchers pooled lactation results from two trials in which calves were fed either an intensified milk replacer (28 percent crude protein, 20 percent fat) or a conventional milk replacer (22 percent crude protein, 20 percent fat.) Here are some of the highlights:

  • Intensive-fed calves gained more weight through weaning, but by 12 weeks of age, conventionally fed calves had caught up.
  • Age at first calving was not affected by diet, but did differ between trials. Age at first calving was 25.9 months and 24.1 months in Trials 1 and 2, respectively.
  • Post-calving bodyweight was not affected by diet.
  • Actual 305-day milk production was greater for intensive-fed calves. In Trial 1, intensive-fed calves gave 2,937 pounds more 305-day milk in the first lactation than conventionally fed calves. Intensive-fed calves in Trial 2 gave 754 pounds more 305-day milk than conventionally fed calves.
  • Protein yield was greater for intensive-fed calves, but milk fat yield did not differ.

Source: 2007 Journal of Dairy Science Volume 90, Suppl. 1