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Research article2008Peer reviewed

Effect of suckling period on calf growth and milk yield of Zebu cows

Sidibe-Anago, Alice G.; Ouedraogo, Georges A.; Ledin, Inger


Eighteen multiparous Zebu cows in their third lactation and their calves were randomly allocated to three suckling periods, up to 3, 4 or 5 months of age of the calf. The cows were individually fed natural hay, cottonseed cake and molasses. At 2 months of age, all calves were separated from their mothers, and were offered cottonseed cake mixed with molasses and Mucuna hay individually. The calves stimulated milk ejection by suckling 30 seconds and suckled the residual milk for 45 minutes after milking. The dry matter intake of cows (3.68, 3.29 and 3.31% of body weight) and calves (2.88, 2.80 and 2.55% of body weight) for suckling up 3, 4 and 5 months of age, respectively, was not significantly affected by treatment and neither was the growth rate of the calves (178, 157 and 149 g/d for 3, 4 or 5 months suckling period, respectively). Cows suckling their calves up to 5 months had significantly higher milk yield and higher amount of saleable milk (1.97, 2.93 and 3.69 kg/cow/d for 3, 4 and 5 months suckling period, respectively). The fat content of the milk decreased with increasing length of the suckling period while the protein content was not affected. In conclusion, a suckling period of 5 months resulted in higher total milk production and higher amount of saleable milk but did not seem to have any effect on calf growth when the calves were supplemented.


suckling period; calf growth; milk yield; Zebu; feed intake

Published in

Tropical Animal Health and Production
2008, Volume: 40, number: 7, pages: 491-499 Publisher: SPRINGER

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Veterinary Science
    Animal and Dairy Science

    Publication identifier


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