Pre-weaning nutrition has a big impact on metabolism later in life

Lifestart themes
Metabolic programming

Key takeaways from the article:

  • Calves in the Kempenshof trial will be followed for their entire productive life
  • Effects of metabolic programming with elevated planes of pre-weaning nutrition on future performance will be studied

The impact of a LifeStart feeding programme on metabolism and metabolomics of heifers

Leonel Leal, a researcher at Trouw Nutrition is responsible for the LifeStart trial at the Kempenshof research centre in Boxmeer, the Netherlands. He is studying the positive effects of increasing the nutrition level for pre-weaned calves on the metabolism and metabolomics of heifers later in life.

The effects of pre-weaning nutrition and ongoing research into metabolism

A lot is already known about the effects that pre-weaning calf nutrition can have on gene expression, metabolism and future productivity. Leonel started a longitudinal study in which he will study the effects of early life nutrition during the pre-weaning phase on metabolism and metabolomics over the entirety of lifetime production. The study started in 2014 and is still going on today.

Pre-weaning nutrition can and does have a tremendous effect on gene expression profiles which, in turn, can impact metabolism. Recent research has shown that this leads to significant changes in body weight and organ development, but also that some changes, such as those he found in his own research about pancreatic tissue development, may have long-lasting effects on the metabolism, well-being and lifetime productivity of cows.

Data on pre-weaned calves show just how large differences based on levels of nutritional input can be, in a very short period of time. In the ongoing longitudinal study, Leonel and his research team will not focus on gene expression or gene expression profiles, but will instead focus on the overall metabolism and metabolomics of heifers. And, not just for a finite period of time, such as during the pre-weaning phase, or post-weaning up to calving, but for the entire lifetime production of the animals.

More about Metabolic programming

A LifeStart feeding schedule alters serum metabolomic profiles and hepatic function in calves

Elevated levels of pre-weaning nutrition increase growth and change protein and energy metabolism and hepatic function of calves.
Read more

To understand calf performance, study bees!

Epigenetics describes the mechanisms that change genes in bees but also in dairy calves.
Read more

From genetics to epigenetics

Environmental factors such as early life nutrition can influence the genome and future productivity of animals, a phenomenon known as "metabolic programming".
Read more

LifeStart Pillars

Colostrum Management
Weaning Strategies
Calf to heifer

LifeStart Themes

Metabolic Programming
Glucose metabolism
Role of fat in calf nutrition
Lactobalance, hydration, and osmoregulation
Most LifeStart science articles on this site relate to a particular stage of the life of a calf or dairy cow. However, some general themes are not related to a particular stage of life. For a full understanding of LifeStart science, please review the information related to the 4 themes above: