Journal: J Anim Sci 1994 72: 984-989.
Abstract: Brahman cows were used to evaluate the effects of postpartum nutrition and suckling on reproductive and calf performance. Cows received high or low TDN and once-daily or unrestricted suckling. High TDN (H; 111% of NRC recommendation) cows received a 75% corn: 25% soybean meal diet. Low TDN (L; 93% of NRC recommendation) cows received no concentrates. Once-daily suckled (restricted, R) cows nursed calves for 30 min/d starting at d 21 after calving. In the unrestricted (U) suckling groups, calves had continuous access to cows. By 2 wk of suckling restriction, more (P or = .7 ng/mL (55 vs 0%) and more (P or = .7 ng/mL (70 vs 40%). All groups had increases in progesterone and 13,14-dihydro-15-keto-prostaglandin F2 alpha before estrus. The interval to first estrus was shorter (P < .01) for R than for U cows (42 vs 65 d). By d 42 postpartum, more (P < .01) R than U cows exhibited estrus (67 vs 0%), and more (P < .05) HR than LR cows exhibited estrus (89 vs 44%). Calving interval was shorter (P < .01) for R than for U cows (361 vs 395 d). Initial ADG were lower (P < .01) for R than for U calves (.02 vs .69 kg), but weaning weights were similar. Once-daily suckling permitted ovarian activity, hastened return to estrus, and reduced calving interval without reducing weaning weights. Increased postpartum energy intake enhanced the response to restricted suckling.