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Research article2004Peer reviewed

Feeding dairy calves and replacement heifers in south-western sweden: A survey

Hessle A, Nadeau E, Svensson C


Daily feed rations, their nutrient contents and live weight gains were recorded for calves and replacement heifers from birth to calving in 122 Swedish dairy herds. Preweaned calves were fed whole milk (45% of the herds), milk replacer alone or milk replacer combined with whole milk. Calf starters were the most frequently used concentrates for preweaned calves, whereas grain dominated for weaned calves and heifers. Grain was supplemented with protein concentrates until 6 months of age and at calving. Grass/clover hay was the dominant forage for preweaned calves, whereas grass/clover silage alone or in combination with hay was the most common forage for calves and replacement heifers from 6 months of age. Heifers grazed semi-natural grasslands, leys or a combination of semi-natural grasslands and leys in 33, 15 and 52% of the herds, respectively. According to Swedish recommendations, calves in a majority of the herds were fed too low concentrations of crude protein from weaning to 6 months of age and calves were fed too low a metabolizable energy content for a daily weight gain of 700 g at weaning. Median live weight gain from birth to calving was only 567 g per day. Correct feed ration formulations and strategic grazing management could be means to increase weight gain and hence to decrease rearing costs of calves and replacement heifers in Swedish dairy herds


feed ration; heifer management; live weight gain; nutrient content; rearing

Published in

Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section A - Animal Science
2004, Volume: 54, number: 2, pages: 94-102