Assessment of milk yield and nursing calf feed intake equations in predicting calf feed intake and weaning weight among breeds.


Lancaster PA(1), Tedeschi LO(2), Buessing Z(1), Davis ME(3).
Author information:
(1)Beef Cattle Institute, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, USA.
(2)Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA.
(3)Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA.


Nutrition models are important tools in management decisions, but improvements are needed for cow-calf producers to accurately predict nursing calf performance. Therefore, the objective of this study was to assess the ability of published milk yield (MY) and forage intake equations to predict calf feed intake and weaning weight (WW) using an independent, multi-breed dataset. A dataset with 406 nursing calves was used to evaluate two MY equations: 1) National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (2016) (NASEM) and 2) Wood (1967) (WOOD) and five feed intake equations: 1) equations from Table 9.1 in Tedeschi et al. (2006) (TED06), 2) equations 2 to 7 in Baker et al. (1976) (BAK76), 3) equation 25 in Tedeschi and Fox (2009) (TED09A), 4) equations 17, 19, and 24 in Tedeschi and Fox (2009) (TED09B), and 5) equation from Holloway et al. (1982) (HOL82). MY was measured at 14-d interval by hand milking, and individual feed intake of nursing calves was determined during a 240-d nursing period. Calf birth and WW were measured on days 0 and 240, respectively. Each combination of MY and feed intake equation was used to predict calf feed intake and WW from observed MY, calf birth weight, and calf slaughter weight. Predicted and observed values were compared using concordance correlation coefficient (CCC) and mean bias (MB). Factors affecting the deviation between observed and predicted values were analyzed using regression, and a revised equation was developed. Feed intake equations poorly predicted observed feed intake with CCC < 0.4 and MB ranged from -108% to 69%. However, statistics were slightly improved when using WOOD rather than the NASEM MY equation. BAK76 and TED09B feed intake equations were considerably more accurate (MB = -14.4% to 13.0%) in predicting feed intake but still not precise (CCC < 0.30). Predictions of WW had CCC ranging from 0.19 to 0.71 and MB ranging from -25.9% to 41.8% and were not significantly affected by the MY equation. TED06 and BAK76 feed intake equations were the most precise (CCC > 0.60) and accurate (MB = 1.7% to 8.5%) in predicting WW. Sire breed accounted for significant variation in the deviation between observed and predicted values of feed intake and in a revised equation to predict total feed energy intake from total milk energy intake. In conclusion, refinements of feed intake equations for nursing calves need to account for breed to improve current nutrition models.