This study aims to determine the effects of dietary crude protein (CP) content of early-weaned calves; and the influence of flint maize processing methods on intake, total tract nutrient digestibilities and performance of Nellore heifer calves. Fifteen early-weaned Nellore female calves (4 ± 0.5 months; 108 ± 13.1 kg) were used. In phase 1, animals were fed one of the following diets for 112 days: 130, 145 or 160 g CP/kg dry matter (DM). In phase 2, animals received one of the two diets for 84 days: 0.60 dry ground maize grain, 0.30 whole-plant maize silage plus 0.10 mineral-protein supplement or 0.90 snaplage plus 0.10 mineral-protein supplement. In phase 1, intake and digestibility of dietary components were not affected (P > 0.05) by increasing dietary CP content. Daily total urinary nitrogen (N) and urinary urea N increased (P < 0.05) in response to increasing dietary CP content. Animal performance was not affected (P > 0.05) by dietary CP content. In phase 2, maize processing methods did not affect (P > 0.05) intake and digestibility of dietary components as well as animal performance, carcase characteristics and carcase composition. Therefore, based on the current experimental condition, we conclude that dietary CP concentrations of 130 g/kg DM can be indicated for early-weaned Nellore calves. However, more studies are recommended to validate this result and to evaluate concentrations below 130 g CP/kg DM for early-weaned Nellore calves. Moreover, snaplage could be used as an exclusive fibre and energy source for finishing cattle in feedlot.