Suckling behavior of calves with dams varying in milk production.

M. L. Day, K. Imakawa, A. C. Clutter, P. L. Wolfe, D. D. Zalesky, M. K. Nielsen, J. E. Kinder

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68 Scopus citations


Two experiments were performed to test the hypothesis that suckling behavior of calves with similar growth potential varies depending on cows' level of estimated milk production and stage of lactation. Eleven mature cows, which varied in estimated 205-d milk production (996 to 2354 kg/205 d), nursing heifer calves of similar growth potential were used in Exp. 1. Suckling behavior of calves was observed for two 24-h periods at three stages of lactation (average of 52, 104 and 167 d postpartum). Suckling frequency (suckling bouts/24 h) declined as milk production increased at 52 d of lactation (-.00382 bouts/kg milk) but was unrelated to milk production at later stages. Duration of suckling (minutes/suckling bout) increased with estimated level of milk production at all stages of lactation (means = .001556 min/kg milk). Total time suckling tended to increase as estimated level of milk production decreased at 52 d of lactation, but this component of suckling behavior was unaffected by milk level at later stages. Suckling frequency declined from 8.6 bouts/24 h at 52 d of lactation to 4.5 bouts/24 h at 167 d of lactation when averaged across all cows. Total minutes nursed/24 h declined in a similar manner (64 min/24 h to 44 min/24 h) between 52 and 167 d of lactation. Duration of each suckling bout did not change with stage. In the second experiment the relationship of suckling behavior to estimated milk production was evaluated at four early stages (average of 17, 38, 59 and 80 d postpartum) of lactation using 20 mature cows.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1207-1212
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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