Forage intake by lactating beef cows differing in potential for milk production.

P. G. Hatfield, D. C. Clanton, K. M. Eskridge, D. W. Sanson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Two feeding trials (early and late lactation) were conducted to measure ad libitum forage intake by beef cows from three breed groups of similar mature weight, but with different milk production potential. Twenty-four cow-calf units, eight from each milk production level (low, medium and high) were grouped (two/pen) based on similarity of cow weight and previous weigh-suckle-weigh and calf weaning weight data. Each pair of cow-calf units was confined to separate pens and allowed ad libitum access to chopped native Sandhills meadow hay. Dry matter intake, cow and calf BW and calf milk consumption were determined. Daily DMI (kg/hd) and milk consumption showed a positive linear response (P less than .05) among low, medium and high milk-producing cows. When cow DMI was expressed as g/unit mean cow BW during the trial, both a positive linear (P less than .05) and a quadratic response (P less than .01) expressed the relationship among production levels during early and late lactation. Calf forage intake, birth weight and adjusted 181- and 205-d weaning weight had no linear or quadratic relationship (P greater than .10) to milk production levels. However, June 1 calf weight, actual calf weaning weight and calf rate of gain (birth to weaning) had a positive linear (P less than .07) relationship. Best fit regression models with DMI as the dependent variable were developed for each trial based on R2 and CV values of the potential models. The best fit model (R2 = .94, SE = .33) for early lactation included production level as a class variable with cow BW.75 and calf birth weight as independent variables. The best fit model (R2 = .92, SE = .53) for late lactation included actual weaning weight in addition to the variables used during early lactation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3018-3027
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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