Effect of indoor energy restriction level and management on beef production in Belgian Blue double-muscled cow-calf pairs

J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2009 Dec;93(6):678-87. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0396.2008.00856.x. Epub 2008 Oct 13.


One hundred and twenty-six cows were involved to investigate the impact of energy (E) restriction (100%, 90%, 80% and 70% of total energy requirements) during the indoor period and two calf management systems (CMS: suckling or rearing). An E restriction during the indoor period resulted in a loss of body weight, even for E100, which was compensated during the re-alimentation period, but body weight remained lower in suckling than in non-suckling cows. The cows yielded 213 full-term gestations and 8 abortions. Abortion was not affected by E (p = 0.187) or CMS (p = 0.804). Calving interval was neither affected by E (p = 0.775) but tended to be longer in suckled cows (p = 0.087). E reduced body weight and body condition score (BCS) at the end of the calving interval, while CMS only affected BCS. E70 resulted in a higher colostrum yield than E100 and E 90 but immunoglobulin content was not affected (p = 0.759). Cow culling was not affected by E or CMS. It increased from 12.9% to 22.2% and 32.5% for cows with a BCS at parturition lower than 1.5 or between 1.5 and 2.0, or higher than 2 respectively. Calf birth weight was neither affected by E or CMS, but there was an interaction between E and dam age (p = 0.050). Increasing the E restriction tended to reduce calf survival (p = 0.089). Performance of the surviving calves was not affected by E, but suckling calves gained faster than rearing calves (p < 0.001). Beef production by the cow-calf pair was not different between energy levels (p = 0.738), but it was 10.8% lower for E70 than for E100 cows. It is not appropriate to apply an E restriction of more than 10-20% for maximum cow reproductive traits and calf performance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed / analysis
  • Animal Husbandry / methods*
  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Animals
  • Body Weight
  • Cattle / physiology*
  • Diet / veterinary
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Female
  • Food Deprivation*
  • Housing, Animal*
  • Reproduction