AGRIDEA Lindau and Lausanne

Feed consumption and live wight performance of suckle cows with calves

As part of a bachelor thesis at the ETH Zurich, data of a four-year experiment of Agroscope ALP Project «Typo» was evaluated. From cows of the suckler cow breeds Angus, Limousin, Eringer and the crossbred type Limousin x Red Holstein, feed intake and live weight performance was measured during the winter feeding periods. With feed intake of over 14 kg of dry matter in Angus and the crossbred cows, the total food consumption is higher than in latest Swiss feed recommendations for suckler cows. In Limousin cows a significantly lower feed intake of 10 % was observed, compared to the other breeds. The maximum feed intake of suckler cows is around the time of the third month of lactation. Energy mobilization of about 4 to 10 MJ NEL per day is to be expected in cows within the first two months of lactation. As a further part of the thesis, a formula was derived for estimating the food consumption of Swiss suckler beef breeds, based on recent French formula-bases combined with data from the project “Typo”. The model assumptions used to estimate consumption were tested in on-farm research and showed a maximum of 4 % difference between the estimated and the actual weight of feed consumption. For further application, a simplified estimation model is proposed in relation to breed and live weight of the suckling cow, the energy content of the feed ration and modifications due to pregnancy, first month of lactation and the lactation number.

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