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Low protein intake during the preconception period in beef heifers affects offspring and maternal behaviour

Miguel-Pacheco, Giuliana G.; Perry, Viv E.A.; Hernandez-Medrano, Juan H.; Wapenaar, Wendela; Keisler, Duane H.; Voigt, J. Peter


Giuliana G. Miguel-Pacheco

Viv E.A. Perry

Juan H. Hernandez-Medrano

Wendela Wapenaar

Duane H. Keisler

J. Peter Voigt


Maternal low protein diets prior to conception alter embryo and fetal development and are associated with detrimental outcomes in the offspring in many species. The aim of this study in beef cattle was to investigate the effect of preconception dietary protein upon maternal and offspring behaviour at birth concomitant with the associated hormonal profile. Sixty days prior to conception, nulliparous yearling heifers (n = 85) were fed either a High (PreH: 18%; n = 43) or Low (PreL: 10%; n = 42) crude protein diet, followed by a control diet throughout gestation. After calving, each cow-calf pair was penned individually, accelerometers fitted, and each pen observed continuously via video recordings. Cows fed on the low protein diet during preconception showed an increase in standing time (P [less than] 0.01); while calves born to heifers receiving the PreL diet showed an increase in suckling time (P = 0.04). These calves were also heavier at birth than calves from PreH mothers (P [less than] 0.01). In conclusion, low maternal dietary protein prior to conception in beef heifers modifies both offspring feeding behaviour and birth weight, and cow’s standing times.


Miguel-Pacheco, G. G., Perry, V. E., Hernandez-Medrano, J. H., Wapenaar, W., Keisler, D. H., & Voigt, J. P. (2019). Low protein intake during the preconception period in beef heifers affects offspring and maternal behaviour. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 215, 1-6.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 8, 2019
Online Publication Date Apr 12, 2019
Publication Date 2019-04
Deposit Date May 17, 2019
Publicly Available Date Apr 13, 2020
Journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Print ISSN 0168-1591
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 215
Pages 1-6
Keywords Beef cattle; Preconception; Low protein; Behaviour; Hormones
Public URL
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