Dietary protein to metabolizable energy ratios on feed efficiency and structural growth of prepubertal Holstein heifers

M. T. Gabler, A. J. Heinrichs

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39 Scopus citations


Sixty Holstein heifers, 124.5 ± 1.1 d of age and 124.9 ± 2.5 kg of BW, were used to evaluate the influence of dietary crude protein to metabolizable energy ratio (CP:ME) on feed efficiency, structural growth, and body condition score. Treatment rations containing a specific CP:ME ratio were assigned to heifers in a complete randomized block design with treatment periods lasting 20 wk. The CP:ME ratios were 48.3, 59.1, 67.5, and 76.5 g of CP per Mcal of ME. The CP:ME ratios were altered by adjusting the concentration of CP (12.0, 15.2, 17.4, and 19.7% CP) with similar amounts of ME (2.6 Mcal/kg DM) across all treatment rations. BW was recorded weekly on two consecutive days and used to adjust dry matter intake to allow approximately 0.80 kg/d gain. Average daily gain did not differ between the treatment rations, 0.74, 0.81, 0.81, 0.77 kg/d, low to highest CP:ME ratio, respectively. Dry matter intake showed a quadratic effect for the treatment rations, 3.30, 3.41, 3.48, and 3.39 kg/d, low to highest CP:ME ratio, respectively, and averaged 2.0% BW. Feed efficiency improved linearly with increasing CP:ME ratios, 4.76, 4.42, 4.35, and 4.33, respectively. The increased CP:ME ratios were accompanied by increasing levels of plasma urea N, 9.88, 13.34, 14.94, and 16.57 mg/dl, respectively. A trend toward linear increases in wither and hip height growth resulted with increasing CP:ME. Hip width growth was quadratic with increasing CP:ME ratios. Observed linear effects in feed efficiency and some structural growth measurements demonstrate positive results when feeding CP:ME ratios >48.3 to Holstein heifers between 125 and 234 kg of BW and gaining 0.80 kg/d.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-274
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of dairy science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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