Effect of feeding program for first two months after birth of female calves on growth, development and first lactation performance

G. Ganchev*, E. Yavuz, N. Todorov

Departmet of Morphology, Physiology and Animal Nutrition, Faculty of Agriculture, Trakia University, 6000 Stara Zagora, Bulgaria

Abstract. The aim of this paper was to review the available literature examining the relationship between milk feeding method of dairy calves during preweaning period on their growth and development. We conclude that delayed and inadequate colostrum feeding can result in increased morbidity and mortality. The higher level of milk feeding for dairy calves has the potential to increase growth rates during the preweaning period, to reduce time needed to reach a necessary body weigh at first calving and improve milk yield at first calving. Providing more milk however, may decrease intake of solid feed during the period of feeding milk. So far is it not clear, whether it is possible to combine intensive liquid feeding with sufficient dry feed intakes at weaning to continue normal growth of calves; otherwise, what is the level of milk feeding allowing small, or even to avoid, slump in growth at weaning. It is not known what level of milk feeding plus free access to starter allows obtaining a high level of live body gain during the first two months necessary for enhancing future milk yield of heifer calves. Additional studies are needed to clarify effect of different levels of milk feeding and scheme of feeding female dairy calves on growth rate, development, feed efficiency and health status during pre weaning and post weaning period.