Body mass index at calving on performance and efficiency of Zebu cow herds

Ricardo Zambarda Vaz, Liliane Cérdotes, Rangel Fernandes Pacheco, Dayana Bernardi Sartori, Jeniffer Danielle Lucas, Hilda Solange Souza Agner, João Restle


This study examines the impact of the body mass index (BMI) at calving on the development and postpartum efficiency of cows of Zebu origin. The study involved 87 cows and their calves [pure Nellore (N) or predominant Nellore composition in a cross with Charolais (C) (3/4N1/4C and 5/8N3/8C)]. The mothers were grouped into classes according to their BMI at calving, namely, ‘small’, ‘moderate’ and ‘large’. Body mass index was determined by dividing the body weight of the cows by their length and by hip height and then dividing the result by 10. Cows were weighed at calving, at weaning, at the end of the breeding period and at the diagnosis of pregnancy. Calves were weighed at birth, at early weaning (63 days) and at 210 of age. To evaluate milk yield and quality, milk was collected at 21, 42 and 63 days after calving. Milk yield was measured by the direct method, with manual milking, followed by analysis of the lactose, fat, total solids and crude protein contents. Pregnancy rate was similar between the three BMI groups; however, cows with a lower BMI were more efficient at calving in producing kilograms of calf per kilogram of cow kept. Higher BMI provide higher milk yields, without affecting its quality, as well as heavier calves at early weaning and at 210 days of age.


End of the breeding period; Milk production and quality; Pregnancy; Weaning.

Full Text:



Bitencourt, M. F., Cerdótes, L., Restle, J., Costa, P. T., Fernandes, T. A., Ferreira, O. G. L., & Vaz, R. Z. (2020). Age and calving time affects production efficiency of beef cows and their calves. Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências, 92(Suppl. 1), e20181058. doi: 10.1590/0001-3765202020181058

Bohnert, D. W., Stalker, L. A., Mills, R. R., Nyman, A., Falck, S. J., & Cooke, R. F. (2013). Late gestation supplementation of beef cows differing in body condition score: effects on cow and calf performance. Journal of Animal Science, 91(11), 5485-5491. doi: 10.2527/jas.2013-6301

Burrow, H. (2010). Relative importance of adaptation and genotype x environment interactions in tropical beef breeding systems. Advances in Animal Biosciences, 1(2), 271-372. doi: 10.1017/S2040470010000014

Carvalheiro, R., Costilla, R., Neves, H. H. R., Albuquerque, L. G., Moore, S., & Hayes, B. J. (2019). Unraveling genetic sensitivity of beef cattle to environmental variation under tropical conditions. Genetics Selection Evolution, 51(1), 1-14. doi: 10.1186/s12711-019-0470-x

Castilho, E. M., Vaz, R. Z., Fernandes, T. A., Farias, G. D., Boligon, A. A., Conceição, V. G. D., & Brum, O. B. (2018). Precocidade de parto na estação de parição sobre a eficiência produtiva de vacas primíparas aos 24 meses de idade. Ciência Animal Brasileira, 19(9), 1-9. doi: 10.1590/1809-6891v19e-46667

Chud, T. C. S., Chud, T. C., Caetano, S. L., Buzanskas, M. E., Grossi, D. A., Guidolin, D. G., & Munari, D. P. (2014). Genetic analysis for gestation length, birth weight, weaning weight, and accumulated productivity in Nellore beef cattle. Livestock Science, 170(1), 16-21. doi: 10.1016/j.livsci.2014.09.024

Costa, P. T., Mendonça, G., Brum, L. P., Vieira, T. P., Feijó, F. D., & Vaz, R. Z. (2020). Body mass index, energy reserves, and tissue composition of cuts of Corriedale lambs. Pesquisa Agropecuária Brasileira, 55(1), e01908. doi: 10.1590/S1678-3921.pab2020.v55.01908

Dervishi, E., Zhang, G., Dunn, S. M., Mandal, R., Wishart, D. S., & Ametaj, B. N. (2017). GC-MS metabolomics identifies metabolite alterations that precede subclinical mastitis in the blood of transition dairy cows. Journal of Proteome Research, 16(2), 433-446. doi: 10.1021/acs.jproteome.6b00538

Du, M., Tong, J., Zhao, J., Underwood, K. R., Zhu, M., Ford, S. P., & Nathaniel, P. W. (2010). Fetal programming of skeletal muscle development in ruminant animals. Journal Animal Science, 88(13), E51-E60. doi: 10.2527/jas.2009-2311

Farias, G. D., Cerdótes, L., Restle, J., Pascoal, L. L., Costa, P. T., Ferreira, O. G. L., & Vaz, R. Z. (2018a). Body size and its effects on productive efficiency of cows with predominant Nellore genetic composition. Acta Scientiarium Animal Science, 40(1), 42532. doi: 10.4025/actascianimsci.v40i1.42532

Farias, G. D., Cerdótes, L., Vaz, R. Z., Restle, J., Bitencourt, M. F., Alves, D. C., Fº., & Brondani, I. L. (2018b). Biological efficiency of Charolais beef cows of different body sizes. Semina: Ciências Agrárias, 39(4), 1737-1748. doi: 10.5433/1679-0359.2018v39n4p1737

Fonseca, M. A., Valadares, S. C., Fº., Henriques, L. T., Paulino, P. V. R., Detmann, E., Benedeti, P. D. B., & Amaral, P. M. (2012). Exigências nutricionais de vacas nelores primíparas lactantes. Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia, 41(5), 1222-1230. doi: 10.1590/S1516-35982012000500020

Freetly, H. C., Kuehn, L. A., & Cundiff, L. V. (2011). Growth curves of crossbred cows sired by Hereford, Angus, Belgian Blue, Brahman, Boran, and Tuli bulls, and the fraction of mature body weight and height at puberty. Journal Animal Science, 89(8), 2373-2379. doi: 10.2527/jas.2011-3847

Gabriel, L. R. A., Fº., Putti, F. F., Cremasco, C. P., Deyver, B., Chacur, M. G. M., & Gabriel, L. R. A. (2016). Software to assess beef cattle body mass through the fuzzy body mass index. Engenharia Agrícola, 36(1), 179-193. doi: 10.1590/1809-4430-Eng.Agric.v36n1p179-193/2016

Gano, G., Blanco, M., Casasús, I., Cortés-Lacruz, X., & Villalba, D. (2016). Comparison of B-splines and non-linear functions to describe growth patterns and predict mature weight of female beef cattle. Animal Production Science, 56(11), 1787-1796. doi: 10.1071/AN15089

Gutiérrez, V., Espasadín, A. C., Machado, P., Bielli, A., Genovese, P., & Carriquiry, M. (2014). Effects of calf early nutrition on muscle fiber characteristics and gene expression. Livestock Science, 167(1), 408-416. doi: 10.1016/j.livsci.2014.07.010

Leal, W. S., Costa, R. F., Cardoso, L. L., Mendonça, F. S., Cardoso, F. F., Yokoo, M. J., & Weaber, R. L. (2018). Bio-economic model predicts economic values for beef production. Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station Research Reports, 4(1), 22-28. 190014/1/Bio-economic-ModelPredicts-Economic-Values-for-Beef-Production.pdf

Lemaster, C. T., Taylor, R. K., Ricks, R. E., & Long, N. M. (2017). The effects of late gestation maternal nutrient restriction with or without protein supplementation on endocrine regulation of newborn and postnatal beef calves. Theriogenology, 87(1), 64-71. doi: 10.1016/j.theriogenology.2016.08.004

Lemes, J. S., Pimentel, M. A., Vaz, R. Z., Farias, L. B., & Brauner, C. C. (2017). Performance efficiency of pasture-raised primiparous beef cows of three different biotypes and two milk production levels. Acta Scientiae Veterinariae, 45(1), e1461. Retrieved from 050

Marques, R. S., Cooke, R. F., Rodriguez, M. C., Moriel, P., & Bohnert, D. W. (2016). Impacts of cow body condition score during gestation on weaning performance of the offspring. Livestock Science, 191(1), 174-178. doi: 10.1016/j.livsci.2016.08.007

Michael, J. D., Baruselli, P. S., & Campanile, G. (2019). Influence of nutrition, body condition, and metabolic status on reproduction in female beef cattle: a review. Theriogenology, 125(1), 277-284. doi: 10.1016/j. theriogenology.2018.11.010

Moura, I. C. F., Kuss, F., Moletta, J. L., Menezes, L. F. G., Henrique, D. S., Cherubin, A. A., & Paris, M. (2014). Productive and reproductive efficiency of Purunã beef cows of different categories. Semina: Ciências Agrárias, 35(4), 2555-2562. doi: 10.5433/1679-0359.2014v35n4Suplp2555

National Research Council (2016). Nutrient requirements of beef cattle. Washington: National Academy Press.

Pacheco, R. F., Brondani, I. L., Alves, D. C., Fº., Cattelam, J., Mayer, A. R., Martini, A. P. M., & Restle, J. (2020b). Reproductive performance of heifers of different weight classes in the first and second mating. Semina: Ciências Agrárias, 40(2), 819-830. doi: 10.5433/1679-0359.2019V40N2P819

Pacheco, R. F., Restle, J., Brondani, I. L., Alves, D. C., Fº., Cattelam, J., Mayer, A. R., & Machado, D. S. (2020a). Calving probability in the first and second reproductive years of beef heifers that reached the recommended body weight at first breeding season. Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia, 49(1), e20190115. doi: 10.37496/rbz4920190115

Restle, J., Pacheco, P. S., Padua, J. T., Moletta, J. L., Rocha, M. G. D., Silva, J. H. S. D., & Freitas, A. K. D. (2005). Efeitos da taxa de ganho de peso pré-desmama de bezerras de corte e do nível nutricional pós-parto, quando vacas, sobre a produção e composição do leite e o desempenho de bezerros. Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia, 34(1), 197-208. doi: 10.1590/S1516-35982005000100024

Rodrigues, P. F., Menezes, L. M., Azambuja, R. C. C., Suñér, W., Barbosa Silveira, I. D., & Cardoso, F. F. (2014). Milk yield and composition from Angus and Angus-cross beef cows raised in southern Brazil. Journal Animal Science, 92(6), 2668-2676. doi: 10.2527/jas.2013-7055

Scasta, J. D., Henderson, L., & Smitht, T. (2015). Drought effect on weaning weight and efficiency relative to cow size in semiarid rangeland. Journal Animal Science, 93(12), 5829-5839. doi: 10.2527/jas.2015-9172

Silva, M. D., Lobato, J. F. P., Vaz, R. Z., Eloy, L. R., & Vaz, M. B. (2018). Development and reproductive performance of Hereford heifers of different frame sizes up to mating at 14-15 months of age. Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia, 47(1), e20170031. doi: 10.1590/rbz472017003

Silva, R. M., Souza, J. C., Fernandes, H. J., Abreu, U. G. P., Ferraz, P. B., Fº., & Rosa, A. N. (2015). Eficiência produtiva ao desmame de vacas Nelore criadas no Pantanal. Arquivo Brasileiro de Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia, 67(4), 1105-1110. doi: 10.1590/1678-4162-6909

Silveira, M. F., Restle, J., Brondani, I. L., Machado, D. S., Pacheco, R. F., Argenta., F. M., & Hoffmann, F. (2019). Effect of age and genetic group on the development of calves weaned at 63 days until one year of age. Semina: Ciências Agrárias, 40(4), 1631-1638. doi: 10.5433/1679-0359.2019v40n4p1631

Torres, H. A. L., Tineo, J. S. A., & Raidan, F. S. S. (2015). Influência do escore de condição corporal na probabilidade de prenhez em bovinos de corte. Archivos de Zootecnia, 64(247), 255-259. doi: 10.21071/ az.v64i247.403

United States Department of Agriculture (2020). National Agricultural Statistics Service. Census of Agriculture. Retrieved from

Vara, C. C., Silveira, M. F., Vaz, R. Z., Restle, J., Machado, D. S., & Macari, S. (2020). Body size in beef cows and its influence on calf production. Semina: Ciências Agrárias, 41(6), 3299-3310. doi: 10.5433/ 1679-0359.2020v41n6Supl2p3299

Vaz, R. Z., Lobato, J. F. P., & Restle, J. (2010). Influence of weaning age on the reproductive efficiency of primiparous cows. Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia, 39(2), 299-307. doi: 10.1590/S1516-3598201000020 0011

Vaz, R. Z., Lobato, J. F. P., Restle, J., Costa, P. T., Ferreira, O. G. L., Bethancourt-Garcia, J. A., & Costa, J. L. B. (2020a). Effect of live weight of beef cows on calf production efficiency. Research, Society and Development, 9(9), e679007632. doi: 10.33448/rsd-v9i9.7632

Vaz, R. Z., Silveira, M. F., Restle, J., Machado, D. S., Silva, H. R., Bethancourt-Garcia, J. A., & Conceição, V. G. D. (2020b). Calving time and milk production in the bioeconomic efficiency of beef cattle herds. Research, Society and Development, 9(9), e216997240. doi: 10.33448/rsd-v9i9.7240


Semina: Ciênc. Agrár.
Londrina - PR
E-ISSN 1679-0359
DOI: 10.5433 / 1679-0359
Este obra está licenciado com uma Licença  Creative Commons Atribuição-NãoComercial 4.0 Internacional