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Early nutrition and later consequences. Feeding the prepubertal heifer – Luis Felipe P. Silva , Univ of Queensland

Major factors affecting milk yield are the ability to supply the mammary gland with nutrients
and the gland to produce milk.

Achieving body size targets at first calving is critical:

  • Loss of 300 kg of milk (1st lact) per -50kg body weight (BW) at calving, loss of 720 kg of
    milk (3 lact) per -50kg BW at calving
  • Optimal BW is 50% mature BW at 12 months and 85% mature BW after calving or at 21
    months
  • Heifers are failing to achieve recommended live weight target, with 73% of heifers at 22
    months being more than 5% below live weight target.

Nutrition of the prepubertal heifer:

  • High-energy diets decrease mammogenesis. The prebuteral period (3-12 months) is a
    critical phase for udder formation.
  • High energy intake from 3 to 9 months promotes growth but not mammogenesis.
  • Excessive energy increases fat within the udder and impairs mammary development
  • High energy diets increase leptin, which inhibits growth of mammary parenchyma via
    negatively affecting IGF-I.
  • Greater protein content during the first year can benefit mammary development.
  • Monitoring growth is key to success! Monitor weight, height, and condition of several
    heifers at weaning, breeding and freshening.

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