LifeStart feeding schedules result a lower culling rate during 1st and 2nd lactation

Several authors have shown that elevated planes of nutrition in dairy calves increase milk production during the 1st lactation[1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9].
In some of these studies, the effect on culling during the 1st lactation was studied. Bolt et[9] al found a culling rate of 7.1% during the 1st lactation in calves fed according to a LifeStart schedule, vs 12.5 % in a group fed according to a restricted schedule.

Faber et all[2] found that if calves were fed 2 liters of colostrum at birth, the risk later in life of failing to complete two lactations was 9 out of 37 (24.3% culled) compared with only 4 out of 31 (12.9% culled) when calves were fed 4 liters of colostrum at birth. This study therefore suggests that longevity of dairy cows may be affected by colostrum intake at birth.

The Trouw Nutrition Kempenshof trial

A total 86 individually housed female dairy calves were included in a longitudinal study carried out in the Kempenshof[10]. Pairs of calves were fed the same amounts of colostrum from the same source and blocked by colostrum, parity and season. The only difference between the two groups was the amount of calf milk replacer fed. The LifeStart group was fed 8 litres per day compared to 4 litres per day for the controls, both groups were fed at a concentration of calf milk powder of 150 g/l.


Dairy heifers in the group fed the conventional feeding schedule had a higher culling rate during the rearing phase, but this difference was only numerical. Culling rate in 1st and 2nd lactation was however lower in the LifeStart group and by the time the animals had completed their second lactation, the difference in culling rate was substantial and had reached statistical significance, despite the fact that the total number of animals in both groups had gone down

Conventional feeding schedule LifeStart feeding schedule p-value
Calves included per group n=43 n=43
Number of calves weaned 42/43 (98%) 43/43 (100%) 0.24
Number reaching age of 1st breeding 39/43 (90%) 41/43 (95%) 0.39
Number of heifers that calved 38/43 (88%) 40/43 (93%) 0.36
Number of heifers finishing 1st lactation 28/43 (64%) 33/43 (77%) 0.02
Number of cows finishing 2nd lactation 17/43 (39%) 24/43 (56%) 0.05


[1] Shamay, A., D. Werner, U. Moallem, H. Barash, and I. Bruckental. 2005. Effect of nursing management and skeletal size at weaning on puberty, skeletal growth rate, and milk production during first lactation of dairy heifers. J. Dairy Sci. 88:1460–1469.
[2] Faber, S. N., N. E. Faber, T. C. McCauley, and R. L. Ax. 2005. Case study: Effects of colostrum ingestion on lactational performance. Prof. Anim. Sci. 21:420–425.
[3] Davis Rincker LE, VandeHaar MJ, Wolf CA, Liesman JS, Chapin LT and Weber Nielsen MS, Effect of intensified feeding of heifer calves on growth, pubertal age, calving age, milk yield, and economics. J. Dairy Sci 94:3554-3567 (2011).
[4] Moallem, U., D. Werner, H. Lehrer, M. Zachut, L. Livshitz, S. Yakoby, and A. Shamay. 2010. Long-term effects of ad libitum whole milk prior to weaning and prepubertal protein supplementation on skeletal growth rate and first-lactation milk production. J. Dairy Sci. 93:2639–2650.
[5] Raeth-Knight, M., H. Chester-Jones, S. Hayes, J. Linn, R. Larson, D. Ziegler, B. Ziegler, and N. Broadwater. 2009. Impact of conventional or intensive milk replacer programs on Holstein heifer performance through six months of age and during first lactation. J. Dairy Sci. 92:799–809.
[6] Drackley, J. K., B. C. Pollard, H. M. Dann, and J. A. Stamey. 2007. First-lactation milk production for cows fed control or intensifi ed milk replacer programs as calves. J. Dairy Sci. 90(Suppl. 1):614 (Abstr.).
[7] Terré, M., C. Tejero, and A. Bach. 2009. Long-term effects on heifer performance of an enhanced growth feeding programme applied during the pre-weaning period. J. Dairy Res. 76:331–339.
[8] Soberon F, Raffrenato E, Everett RW and Van Amburgh ME. 2012, Preweaning milk replacer intake and effects on long-term productivity of dairy calves. J. Dairy Sci 95:783-793.
[9] Bolt, A. 2019, Meta-analysis to calculate the effect of rearing intensity on functionality of dairy cows, Research paper Mecklenburg Vorpommern Landesforschungsanstalt für Landwirtschaft und Fischerei.
[10] Data on file, Study report R06201B.

LifeStart Themes

Most of the LifeStart science presented on this site is related to a particular stage of the life of a calf or dairy cow. There are however some general themes not related to a particular stage of life.

For a full understanding of LifeStart science, please review the information related to the following
4 themes:

Questions about Calf Rearing?



Metabolic programming

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Glucose metabolism

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Role of fat in calf nutrition

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Lactobalance, osmoregulation and hydration

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