Effect of Dietary Protein Levels on the Performance, Nutrient Balances, Metabolic Profile and Thyroid Hormones of Crossbred Calves

  • Lohakare, J.D. (Kangwon National University) ;
  • Pattanaik, A.K. (Center of Advanced Studies in Animal Nutrition, Indian Veterinary Research Institute) ;
  • Khan, S.A. (Center of Advanced Studies in Animal Nutrition, Indian Veterinary Research Institute)
  • Received : 2005.02.15
  • Accepted : 2006.04.08
  • Published : 2006.11.01


An experiment was conducted to study the effect of different dietary protein levels on the performance, nutrient balances, blood biochemical parameters and thyroid hormones of crossbred calves. Thirty crossbred (Bos taurus${\times}$Bos indicus) calves aged 3-5 months were divided into 3 equal groups of 10 each and fed graded levels of crude protein, namely 100 (NP), 75 (LP) and 125 (HP) percent of the Kearl recommendations for 105 d. The calves had access to ad libitum oat hay as the basal roughage. A metabolism trial of 6 d duration was conducted at 90 d of the study. Blood collection and its analysis for various hematological and biochemical parameters as well as thyroid hormones was done both during the pre- and post-experimental periods. The fortnightly body weight changes and the net gain did not differ significantly due to dietary variation. The average daily gain was $367{\pm}21.6$, $347{\pm}22.9$ and $337{\pm}26.4g$ in calves fed NP, LP and HP diets, respectively. Averaged across the feeding trial, oat hay intake was higher (p<0.05) in NP animals than HP or LP fed groups. The dry matter (DM) intake showed no significant difference between the 3 groups but the DM digestibility was higher (p<0.05) in the HP fed animals. The digestibility of crude protein, organic matter, crude fiber and nitrogen-free extract was significantly higher (p<0.05) on HP diets compared to LP or NP diets. The calves on all 3 diets were in positive nitrogen (N) balance, however the N retention was higher (p<0.05) in HP than in LP fed calves. The intake and retention of calcium and phosphorus were similar between the treatments. The blood biochemical profile revealed no significant influence of the dietary treatments on hemoglobin, packed cell volume as well as serum levels of glucose, total protein, albumin, globulin, Ca, P, and alkaline phosphatase. Serum levels of the circulating thyroid hormones ($T_3$ and $T_4$) tended to be lower (p>0.05) on feeding of the LP diet besides showing an increasing trend with the advancement of age. Considering the similar performance and metabolic profile, it could be concluded that crossbred calves can be satisfactorily reared on 25% lower protein level as recommended by Kearl for developing countries, which would not only economize the cost of production but also help to reduce environmental pollution attributable to livestock production.


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