Residual feed intake of nellore calves is not repeatable across pre and post weaning periods
Consumo alimentar residual de bezerros Nelore na pré e pós-desmama tem baixa repetibilidade
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This study measured milk and solid feed intake in pre- weaning period and feed intake in postweaning period of Nellore calves, and to correlated them with performance traits and ingestive behavior of animals classified as most and least efficient. During pre weaning phase, feed efficiency was evaluated in 51 cow-calf pairs from 21±5 days after calving until weaning. During post-weaning phase, only male calves (n=23) were evaluated. Pre-weaning milk intake of calves was estimated based on cow’s milk production. Pre-weaning daily metabolizable energy intake (MEI) of calves was estimated as the sum of MEI from milk and solid diet. There was no difference in ADG between calves with negative and positive pre RFI, with a consequent better feed conversion to more efficient calves. The most efficient calves spent less time at the feed bunk, with a shorter feeding duration and higher rate of intake, compared to the least efficient animals. Correlations between feed intake and metabolic body weight of the animals during pre- and postweaning phases were positive, of medium to high magnitude, and significant, while correlation between ADG values was close to zero. Results suggested that part of the animals ranked based on pre weaning feed intake won’t maintain their rank during postweaning phase. In conclusion, calves classified as most efficient during pre-weaning phase have similar weight gain but lower milk intake and MEI than least efficient animals. The estimated pre RFI is weakly correlated with post RFI, showing that RFI is not consistent or repeatable across two periods.