The objectives of this study were to determine the effects of accelerating growth rates and of imposing estrogen implants in prepubertal heifers on mammary development and subsequent reproduction and milk production. Sixty-eight Holstein heifers were assigned to 1 of 4 treatment groups by using a randomized complete block design in a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement. The treatments were standard growth rate (700 g/d) or accelerated growth rate (1000 g/d) and estrogen implant or no estrogen implant. The treatments were imposed over 20 wk, beginning at 4.5 mo of age and 130 kg of body weight (BW). During the treatment period, all heifers were fed individually and received the same diet, but the dry matter intake of each heifer was adjusted weekly to achieve the designated growth rate. The estrogen implants were removed at the end of the treatment period at 9.5 mo of age. After the treatment period, the heifers were group fed according to BW and age to allow the heifers to have a similar BW and age at calving. The accelerated growth regimen decreased age at puberty by 32 d. Age, BW, and body condition scores at calving were not significantly different among treatments. The accelerated prepubertal growth regimen decreased first lactation fat-corrected milk yield 7.1%. Prepubertal heifers given estrogen implants produced 5.2% less fat-corrected milk during first lactation than did heifers not implanted with estrogen. Estrogen implants stimulated a large increase in teat length growth during the treatment period, but the advantage was lost posttreatment. Over both the treatment and posttreatment periods, the estrogen implants reduced teat length growth by 30%. Accelerated growth rates from 700 to 1000 g/d and estrogen implants in prepubertal heifers decreased first lactation milk production.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology