Two trials investigating compensatory growth are reported in which lambs and young cattle were placed on either a continuous (C) or a discontinuous (RR) growth path. RR animals were subjected to a phase of restricted feeding and then realimented at an equivalent level of feeding to C animals over the same live-weight range. Eight 4-month-old lambs and 30 9-month-old Swiss Brown steers were used. The restriction (I) and realimentation (II) phase covered the live-weight ranges 23–32 kg and 32–44 kg respectively in tho lamb trial and 236–310 kg and 310–460 kg respectively in the steer trial.
Fifty-six total energy balances were made with lambs using open-circuit respiration calorimetry. Fifty determinations of diet digestibility and N balance were made with steers. Lambs received a pelleted concentrate diet and, except for restrictively fed steers which received hay alone, steers were offered a diet based on maize silage.
The restriction phase of RR lambs and RR steers was longer, and the daily ME intake and daily live-weight gains were significantly lower than those of the C animals.
Compared with C lambs a marked reduction in methane production of RR lambs occurred during feed restriction which persisted throughout realimentation.
During recovery realimented lambs gained non-significantly, but realimented steers significantly, more than C animals from a similar ME intake and required less ME/kg daily live-weight gain. Realimented lambs retained more protein at the start of recovery compared with C lambs but both C and realimented steeis retained similar amounts of nitrogen. Indirect evidence is presented that suggests improved utilization of ME for protein deposition, at least at the start of realimentation.
Although the animals on the discontinuous growth path (RR) took longer to reach slaughter weight, their total intake of gross energy and overall energy conversion ratio (MJ ME/kg live-weight gain) was similar to those of animals on the continuous growth path (C).