Alternative Feeding Practices for Dairy Calves and Beta-Casein Genotype and Its Effect on Dairy Cows

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Alternative Feeding Practices for Dairy Calves and Beta-Casein Genotype and Its Effect on Dairy Cows

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These studies were conducted to compare how different genotypes and breed groups affect dairy calf and cow management. Specific focus was put on alternative management practices or niche markets that dairy producers face today. The objective of the first study was to compare crossbred dairy calves to Holstein calves for growth and milk consumption behaviors while being fed alternative milk allowances in an automated group feeding system. Calves fed ad libitum milk exhibited an increased growth rate and weaning weight without compromising the health of the calves, compared to calves fed 8 L. Breed groups exhibited no difference in weaning weight or health scores. Limousin crossbred calves exhibited a lower milk consumption, but increased growth rate compared to the other breed groups. The results of this study indicate feeding dairy calves ad libitum may increase milk cost but could be economically advantageous if increased growth rates are also realized. The objective of the second study was to compare the beta-casein genotype impact on production, fertility, and survival amongst purebred certified-organic Holstein cows. Herd had an effect on the production, fertility, and survival of the cows. Parity effected times bred, days open, and all production traits. The beta-casein genotype of the cows and the herd affected the percentage of cows that survived to the start of the subsequent lactation. This study indicated beta-casein genotype had no effect on the fertility and production of organic dairy herds. Meanwhile, survival may be biased against the A1A1 genotype as shown by lower survival rates to each lactation. This study may offer organic producers more flexibility in breeding programs and culling decisions to produce A2 milk. The results of both studies offer producers more insight into new management strategies to achieve their on-farm goals without compromising genetic or monetary input.


University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. December 2022. Major: Animal Sciences. Advisors: Michael Schutz, Bradley Heins. 1 computer file (PDF); iv, 68 pages.

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Arens, Sara. (2022). Alternative Feeding Practices for Dairy Calves and Beta-Casein Genotype and Its Effect on Dairy Cows. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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