Relationship between performance, metabolic profile, and feed efficiency of lactating beef cows
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Twenty-seven Nellore cow-calf pairs were submitted for feed efficiency testing. The animals were weighed every 21 ± 5 days to obtain metabolic body weight (BW0.75) and average daily gain (ADG). Subcutaneous fat thickness (SFT; at 20, 83, 146, and 176 days post-calving); milk yield and components (63, 85, and 151 days); levels of glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides, β-hydroxybutyrate, albumin, urea, creatinine, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, insulin, and cortisol (15, 41, 62, and 124 days); and ingestive behavior were evaluated. Residual feed intake was calculated for the first stage (RFI1; 21 to 100 days post-calving) and the second stage of lactation (RFI2; 100 to 188 days post-calving), and the cows were classified based on RFI1 as most efficient (RFI1 < 0) and least efficient (RFI1 > 0). Negative RFI1 cows consumed 1.3 kg/day of dry matter, or 9.77%, less than positive RFI1 cows. Most- and least-efficient cows did not differ in terms of subcutaneous fat thickness traits and milk yield or energy-corrected milk (ECM). Glucose (P = 0.0785), triglycerides (P = 0.0795), and phosphorus (P = 0.0597) concentrations were higher in the first stage of lactation in most-efficient cows. Maternal characteristics such as calf weight at birth and at 205 days and ADG were similar in most- and least-efficient cows. The most-efficient cows are more economic as they consume less feed for the same level of production.
KeywordsBeef cattle Blood metabolites Bos indicus Milk production Residual feed intake
This study was financially supported by the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP, Proc. 2015/02066-4) and by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior-Brasil (CAPES, Finance Code 001).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Statement of animal rights
All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.
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