Veterinary World

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Research (Published online: 12-06-2016)

8. New insights on ill-thriftiness in early-weaned buffalo calves - Nasr-Eldin M. Aref, Ali El-Sebaie and Hammad Zaghloul Hammad

Veterinary World, 9(6): 579-586



   doi: 10.14202/vetworld.2016.579-586



Nasr-Eldin M. Aref: Department of Animal Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Assiut University, Assiut, Egypt;

Ali El-Sebaie: Department of Animal Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Assiut University, Assiut, Egypt;

Hammad Zaghloul Hammad: Animal Health Research Institute, Sohag, Egypt;


Received: 31-01-2016, Accepted: 25-04-2016, Published online: 12-06-2016


Corresponding author: Nasr-Eldin M. Aref, e-mail:

Citation: Aref NM, El-Sebaie A, Hammad HZ (2016) New insights on ill-thriftiness in early-weaned buffalo calves, Veterinary World, 9(6): 579-586.

Aim: The present study was designed to: (1) Investigate the effect of weaning time on various metabolic indices and growth pattern in buffalo calves compared to cow calves under field condition and (2) Shed light on the potential relationship between early weaning, growth metabolites, and suboptimal growth (ill-thrift) in buffalo calves.

Materials and Methods: A total number of 18 neonatal calves of both sexes and species (cattle and buffalo) were included in the study. Animals were divided into three groups according to their age at weaning as following: Cow calves (n=8) weaned at 4.5 months, buffalo calves (n=6) weaned at 3.5 months (early-weaned), and buffalo calves (n=4) weaned at 5.5 months (late-weaned). Morphological traits, growth metabolites, and hormonal profile were measured at monthly interval over the period of the study and around the time of weaning (2 weeks pre- and post-weaning).

Results: The obtained results showed that the trend of growth pattern was significantly increased in a linear pattern in cow calves and late-weaned buffalo calves, whereas early-weaned buffalo calves showed sharp decline in their body weight (BW) post-weaning. By the end of the study, early-weaned buffalo calves showed the lowest BW gain (ill-thrift). There is a positive association between the morphological traits and various growth metabolites and hormonal indices. A significant decrease (p<0.05) in the concentrations of growth hormones (insulin-like growth factor-1 [IGF-1] and insulin) and other metabolites were reported in early-weaned buffalo calves compared to other animals. There is no association between stress indices (cortisol level and neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio) and growth rate.

Conclusion: Suboptimal growth rate (ill-thriftiness) is common in early-weaned buffalo calves and is attributed to low blood levels of growth metabolites, in particularly, IGF-1. In addition, the strong positive associations between concentrations of IGF-1 and morphological characters of growth suggest that IGF-1 is a reliable indicator for assessing metabolic status of individual calves.

Keywords: calves, growth, hormone, insulin, insulin-like growth factor-1, weaning.

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