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Pubmed ID :22444774
Publication Date : //

Performance and nursing behaviour of beef cows with different types of calf management.


The aim of this experiment was to evaluate the effect of calf management during lactation on dam performance and nursing behaviour. Thirty-six multiparous beef cows (aged 7.5 ± 0.52 years) of Parda de Montaña breed (mean live-weight (LW) at calving 566 ± 9.3 kg) with a moderate body condition (mean 2.6 ± 0.02 on a 1 to 5 scale), were assigned to three nursing frequencies from the day after parturition: Once-daily restricted nursing during a 30 min period at 0800 h (RESTR1), twice-daily restricted nursing during two 30 min periods at 0800 and 1530 h (RESTR2) and ad libitum nursing (ADLIB). Cows were fed throughout the experiment 80 MJ/day of metabolizable energy. Cow-calf behaviour recordings were performed on days 30 and 66 of lactation in each treatment. Blood samples were collected fortnightly to analyse non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) by an enzymatic colorimetric method, and twice weekly to determine progesterone concentrations by radioimmunoassay. Cow LW losses (P < 0.05), fat-corrected milk yield (P < 0.05) and calf average daily gain (P < 0.01) during lactation were higher in ADLIB. Nursing frequency affected the mean serum concentrations of NEFA, being lower in RESTR1 (0.18 mmol/l; P < 0.05) than in RESTR2 and ADLIB cows (0.29 and 0.25 mmol/l, respectively). The highest occurrence of nursing bouts was observed in ADLIB, leading to greater nursing duration per day (not statistically compared) in this treatment (58.8 ± 5.84 min) than in their restricted nursing counterparts (22.2 ± 1.42 and 34.3 ± 1.16 min, in RESTR1 and RESTR2, respectively). The nursing system did not affect the proportion of cows cycling within 3 months post partum (58%, 46% and 55% in RESTR1, RESTR2 and ADLIB, respectively; P > 0.05). The majority of cows in all treatments showed a short oestrus cycle after first ovulation (75%, 100% and 83%; P > 0.05). In conclusion, the post-partum luteal function in cows managed under continuous access to calves was similar to restricted nursing frequencies, despite the greater suckling intensity of the formers. Restricting calf presence does not enhance the resumption of ovarian activity when suckler cows are managed in moderate nutritional conditions.

Authors : Alvarez-Rodriguez J , Palacio J , Casasús I , Revilla R , Sanz A ,

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