Abstract #419

# 419
Growth, intake, and health of Holstein heifer calves fed an enhanced diet pre-weaning with or without exogenous estradiol immediately post-weaning.
Adam J. Geiger*1, Robert E. James1, Catherine L. Parsons1, Anthony V. Capuco2, R. Michael Akers1, 1Department of Dairy Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA, 2United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville, MD.

Enhanced feeding (HP) of heifers post-weaning but before puberty can reduce mammary gland (MG) development and milk yield. Better pre-weaning (PW) nutrition is likely beneficial. Our objectives were to determine effects of PW HP and exogenous estradiol (E2) on growth, intake, and health. Thirty-six Holstein heifer calves were reared on: 1) a control milk replacer (MR) fed at 454 g powder/day (CON; 20% crude protein [CP], 20% fat), or 2) an accelerated MR fed at 1135 g powder/day (ACC; 28% CP, 25% fat). MR feeding was reduced 50% at wk 8. Starter was offered after wk 4 but balanced between treatments. BW and frame measures were taken weekly with intakes and health monitored daily. At weaning a subset of calves were killed (n = 6/diet). Remaining calves received E2 implants and were killed at wk 10. The 4 treatments were: 1) CON, 2) CON + E2 (EST), 3) ACC, and 4) ACC + E2 (ACCEST). Data were analyzed using PROC GLIMMIX in SAS and treatment differences were separated with the PDFIFF function. Significance was declared when P < 0.05 and tendencies when 0.10 > P > 0.05. ACC calves were heavier at weaning (75 vs 51 kg, P < 0.01). E2 did not influence BW. ACC calves had greater average daily gain (ADG) between wk 1 to 7 (P < 0.01). Post-weaning ADG was similar between CON, ACC, and ACCEST calves, but greater in EST calves (P < 0.05) than ACC calves. At first slaughter, ACC calves had greater carcass, MG, thymus, liver, and spleen weights (P < 0.01). EST calves had heavier MG than CON calves (P < 0.01) and ACCEST calves heavier reproductive tracts and uteri compared with ACC calves (P < 0.01). ACC calves consumed more MR DM, CP, fat, and ash PW (P < 0.01). CON calves consumed more starter DM, CP, fat, NDF, ADF, and ash PW (P < 0.01). These differences were not observed post-weaning. Fecal scores (FS) were greater for ACC calves (1.7 vs 1.5; P < 0.01) PW. FS were lower for EST calves post-weaning. Results show that PW HP increases weight and frame measures pre and post-weaning. PW HP increased ADG PW, but not post-weaning. E2 may elicit beneficial responses in some calves. Analysis of collected samples will allow us to determine cellular and molecular processes responsible for tissue differences.

Key Words: mammary gland, estradiol, milk replacer