The effects of body weight (BW) gain, different sources of protein during the prepubertal period (90 to 320 kg of BW), and the performance of Holstein heifers during their first lactation were studied. Heifers (n = 273) were assigned to one of three dietary energy treatments that were designed to achieve average daily gains of 0.6, 0.8, and 1.0 kg/d. Within each energy treatment, different protein sources (plant protein and urea or both plant and animal proteins) were imposed. Actual average daily gains by heifers on each energy treatment were 0.68, 0.83, and 0.94 kg/d for heifers that were fed diets formulated for average daily gains of 0.6, 0.8, and 1.0 kg/d, respectively, which allowed the following ages at first calving: 24.5, 22.0, and 21.3 mo. Breeding was initiated when heifers weighed approximately 340 kg. Protein sources did not affect average daily gain or milk yield. Analysis of the preplanned comparisons of actual 305-d and 4% fat-corrected milk yields indicated that yield was significantly reduced for heifers grown at 0.94 kg/d (9387 and 8558 kg, respectively) compared with that of heifers grown at 0.68 kg/d (9873 and 9008 kg, respectively). However, further regression analysis of fat-corrected milk and residual milk from a test day model on prepubertal BW gain only explained 8 and 2% of the variation in milk yield, respectively. Postcalving BW and body condition score were different among treatments. Posttreatment factors, such as postcalving BW, accounted for more of the variation in milk yield than did prepubertal BW gain. Prepubertal BW gains, when evaluated on a continuum from 0.5 to 1.1 kg/d, explained little of the variation in milk yield; therefore, BW gain during the prepubertal period did not significantly affect milk yield during first lactation.
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