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Nutritional efficiency of feed-restricted F1 Holstein/Zebu cows in early lactation


The quantitative feed restriction of lactating cows has been used in intensive production systems as a strategy to reduce production costs. However, the effects of this restriction in F1 Holstein/Zebu cows are unclear. The objective of this work was to evaluate the effect of quantitative feed restriction on nutrient intake and digestibility, nitrogen balance, feed efficiency, feed behavior, and productive performance in F1 Holstein/Zebu cows during early lactation. Sixty F1 Holstein × Zebu cows were used at the stage of initial lactation (50 ± 13 days of lactation), and they had an initial body weight (BW) of 482 ± 43 kg. The experimental arrangement adopted was a completely randomized design, with five feed restriction levels (3.39, 2.75, 2.50, 2.25, and 2.00% of BW) and 12 cows in each treatment group. In the short term (63 days), there were reductions of 45.9% and 47.2% in dry matter intake (P < 0.01) and crude protein (P < 0.01), respectively, when the diet supply was limited from 3.39% BW to 2.00% of BW. There were declines in intake of ether extract (P < 0.01) and nonfibrous carbohydrates (P < 0.01), but there was no change in daily milk production (P = 0.44) nor the daily milk production corrected to 3.5% fat (P = 0.12); the averages were 14.01 kg/day and 13.25 kg/day, respectively. Considering the lower body weight loss, feed restriction is recommended up to 2.5% of the BW.

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The authors thank the Foundation for Research Support of the State of Minas Gerais (FAPEMIG), the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), EPAMIG, and Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia (INCT–Ciência Animal).


This study was financed in part by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior-Brasil (CAPES)-Finance Code 001.

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Correspondence to Flávio Pinto Monção.

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All animal care and handling procedures were approved by the Animal Care and Use Committee of the Universidade Estadual de Montes Claros, Brazil (protocol CEBEA-Unimontes 128/2016).

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Monção, F.P., Santana, P.F., Júnior, V.R.R. et al. Nutritional efficiency of feed-restricted F1 Holstein/Zebu cows in early lactation. Trop Anim Health Prod 52, 141–149 (2020).

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  • Crossing
  • Dairy cattle
  • Intake
  • Nitrogen balance
  • Performance