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Trop Anim Health Prod. 2017 Feb;49(2):383-387. doi: 10.1007/s11250-016-1204-5. Epub 2016 Dec 15.

Weight, body condition, milk production, and metabolism of Nellore cows when their calves are submitted to different supplementation levels.

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Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Viçosa, Minas Gerais, 36570-000, Brazil.
Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Viçosa, Minas Gerais, 36570-000, Brazil.
Biotran - Biotecnologia e Treinamento em Reprodução Animal, Alfenas, Minas Gerais, 37130-000, Brazil.


Creep feeding has been used to reduce calves' nutritional dependence on the cow, but research results under tropical conditions have not been conclusive about the effects on the cow. Therefore, this study was conducted to evaluate the effects of high and low supplementation levels for Nellore heifer calves on performance, milk production, and metabolic profile of their mothers. Fifty multiparous Nellore cows and their respective calves were used. The following treatments were evaluated: 0-control, no supplement was fed to calves; 3-calves received supplement in the amount of 3 g/kg of body weight (BW); 6-calves received supplement in the amount of 6 g/kg of BW. There was no significant effect of level of supplementation offered to offspring on cow BW, body condition score (BCS) and subcutaneous fat thickness (P > 0.05). Level of supplementation of heifer calves did not significantly affect milk production corrected to 4% of fat (P > 0.05). Fat, protein, lactose, and total solids of the milk also did not differ among supplementation strategies (P > 0.05). Level of supplement fed to calves had no effect on cows' glucose, total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides, total protein, and albumin levels (P > 0.05), but cows nursing calves that did not receive supplement had lower level of serum urea N (SUN; P < 0.05). We conclude that creep feeding in the amounts of 3 or 6 g/kg of BW daily has no major impact on dams' performance and metabolism.


Cow metabolism; Creep feeding; Fat thickness; Grazing dams; Zebu cow

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