New born (male and female) calves (n = 26) weighing 33.3 ± 0.71 kg were used to evaluate effects of restricting frequency of free access to milk before and 2 weeks after weaning. Calves were randomly assigned at birth to 1 of 2 treatments being free access to whole milk twice daily (2X) or free access to whole milk once a day (1X). Milk and starter intakes were recorded daily, body weight (BW) was recorded weekly and metabolisable energy intake estimated. Before weaning, 2X calves had greater milk intake (8.76 L/d) and lower starter intake dry matter intake (DMI); 0.11 kg DM/d) compared to 1X calves (7.11 L/d and 0.21 kg DM/d, respectively; P < 0.01). Pre–weaning body weight (54.21 kg) and BW gain average daily gain (ADG) 0.74 kg/d were greater (P < 0.01) for 2X calves compared to 1X (45.30 kg and 0.58 kg/d, respectively). Feed and energy conversion ratio did not differ (P > 0.05) between treatments before weaning, but were greater (P < 0.03) in 1X calves compared to 2X calves after weaning. Calves fed 2X lost weight a week after weaning, while calves fed 1X maintained growth. Limiting frequency of free access to milk improved solid feed intake and helped calves maintaining apparent growth after weaning.
Key words: dairy calf, milk intake, energy intake, weaning.