The effects of restricted suckling and early weaning on cow reproduction and weaner production performance in Gudali cattle

Author: O. Messine, L.M.J. Schwalbach and J.P.C. Greyling
Year: 2004
Issue: 6
Volume: 34
Page: 119 - 121

The effects of weaning calves at 180 days (early weaning – EW) or at 240 (control – CW) days following restricted suckling (RS) or unrestricted suckling (US) on the post-partum reproductive performance of cows and calf growth rates were investigated using 40 cow-calf pairs of Ngaoundere Gudali zebu cattle in Cameroon. Uterine involution, oestrous activity and the reproductive tract score (RTS) of postpartum (PP) cows and the pre- and post-weaning calf growth rates were compared. RS significantly accelerated uterine involution and reduced the calving to conception interval by 40 days. EW resulted in slightly lower weaning weights, but had no effect on the PP reproductive performance of the dams. RS and EW calves experienced slower growth and lower weaning weights. At weaning, the US-CW calves were 34.9, 28.7 and 71.1 kg heavier compared to the RS-CW, US-EW and RS-EW groups, respectively. However, RS was highly detrimental to post-weaning ADG up to a yearling age, while the EW calves showed compensatory growth during this period. Early weaning seems to be a management practice holding advantages in Ngaoundere Gudali cattle under local conditions and warrants further investigation.

Keywords: Calf growth, conception, management, oestrus, rebreeding, reproductive tract score
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