The effects of disease, management, and nutrition on the average daily gain of dairy heifers were studied from birth to 4 mo of age for 795 Holstein calves from 21 commercial dairy farms in Pennsylvania during 1991 and 1992. Biweekly visits to the farms yielded information on body weight, nutrient intake, environment, and management practices for each calf. Average daily gain varied throughout the 4-mo period because of many factors, including housing location after separation from the dam, dry matter intake, season, and farm. Dry matter intake was 4.0 kg/kg of body weight gain throughout the period from birth to 4 mo of age. Calves born in winter tended toward higher average daily gain than did calves born in other seasons. Calves born in summer showed a tendency for decreased average daily gain. The practices of tying calves with cows and housing groups of calves in pens were detrimental to average daily gain, but the use of hutches and the practice of tying calves away from cows yielded higher average daily gains. Other variables with significant effects included calving location, parity of the dam, and delivery score at calving.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology