Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



Transl. Anim. Sci. 2020.4:S145–S148

doi: 10.1093/tas/txaa123


© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Society of Animal Science. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License


Livestock producers have tended to select for increased output traits like milk production and growth to increase productivity. Even with the increased selection for greater calf growth potential, some regions in the United States have seen a plateau in calf body weight (BW) at weaning (Lalman et al., 2019). When focusing on reaching maximum potential of these output traits, it is important to consider the multitude of variables that affect a production system. With increased milk production, nutrient requirements for cows become increased (Ferrell and Jenkins, 1984; Montaño-Bermudez et al., 1990), which may not be met if range and forage availability for grazing is already limited at meeting lactation demands.

Historically, weaning weight and milk production have been associated with a positive relationship with greater milk production resulting in heavier calves at weaning (Clutter and Nielsen, 1987; Abdelsamei et al., 2005). In contrast, others have only observed the benefit of increased milk production improving calf performance within the first 60 d after birth (Clutter and Nielsen, 1987; Ansotegui et al, 1991; Edwards et al., 2017). Gleddie and Berg (1968) reported the correlation between average daily gain (ADG) of calves and milk yield estimates increased between the first and second month and continued to decrease thereafter as the forage consumption increased. The reliance on milk for dietary energy can result in increased calf BW at peak lactation (Edwards et al., 2017), but benefits of increased milk production may decrease as stage of lactation increases. Our hypothesis was that increasing milk production would negatively affect cow reproductive performance while having no effect on calf performance. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine the impact milk production has on subsequent cow reproductive performance and calf performance throughout the preweaning and postweaning phases.