Previous research has demonstrated that kale and fodder beet diets differ in many nutrients, particularly phosphorus and nitrogen (crude protein). Over recent years it had been suggested that fodder beet feeding may be contributing to increased risk of humeral fractures in rising 2-year old replacements. Since both phosphorus and nitrogen are associated with bone development in utero, this project aimed to understand whether the diet cows were wintered on affected calf liveweight and stature at birth and if so, what the differences in bone mineralisation or density are, if any.
During spring 2018 and 2019 all replacement heifer calves were weighed on arrival into the calf shed and had their wither height, girth and length measured. These liveweight and stature measures continued until the animals completed their first lactation. In spring 2019 a pilot study was undertaken with bull bobbies to assess bone structure and density.
Liveweight and stature:
During spring 2020 the bone measurements were repeated in the newborn calves and a cohort will be reared to post puberty and bone health reassessed. The project will also look to investigate non-invasive options for measuring bone density.