Effects of housing beef cow-calf pairs on drylot or pasture in the Midwest on production parameters and calf behavior through feedlot receiving

Megan E. Myerscough, Lucas T. Neira, Keifer H. Sexton, Lucas S. Hofer, Keela M. Trennepohl, William T. Meteer, Wesley P. Chapple, Josh C. Mccann, Daniel W. Shike

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objectives were to analyze the effects of housing cow-calf pairs in drylots (DL) or pasture (PAST) on cow performance and reproduction as well as calf performance and behavior through feedlot receiving. Simmental × Angus (2 yr; 108/yr; 81 ± 15.3 d postpartum) spring-calving cows were stratified by age, body weight (BW), body condition score (BCS), and calf sex and allotted to six groups per year. Groups were randomly assigned to one of two treatments: DL or PAST. Cows in DL were limit-fed at maintenance and calves had ad libitum access to the cow diet in an adjacent pen. Pairs on PAST were rotationally grazed and calves received creep ad libitum 3 wk prior to weaning. On day 110, calves were fence-line weaned and behavior was observed on days 111 and 112. On day 116, calves were transported 272 km to a feedlot for a 42-d receiving period. Behavior was evaluated again on days 117 and 118. Data were analyzed using the MIXED procedure of SAS except reproductive data which was analyzed using the GLIMMIX procedure. Cows on DL had greater (P ≤ 0.01) BW and BCS at weaning. There were no differences (P ≥ 0.42) detected in reproductive data. Cows on DL had greater (P = 0.02) milk production. Calves on DL had greater BW (P ≤ 0.01) on day 55 and at weaning and greater preweaning average daily gain (ADG). There were treatment × time effects (P = 0.01) for lying and eating on days 111 and 112. More DL calves were eating in the morning and lying in the evening. More (P < 0.01) PAST calves were walking on day 111. Pasture calves vocalized more (P ≤ 0.01) on day 112. On day 117, more (P ≤ 0.05) pasture calves were lying and eating, and DL vocalized more. On day 118, treatment × time and treatment effects were detected (P ≤ 0.02) for lying and walking. More PAST calves were lying and more DL calves were walking. Drylot calves had greater (P ≤ 0.02) BW at the beginning and end of the receiving phase. Pasture calves had greater (P < 0.01) ADG and tended (P = 0.10) to have greater gain efficiency during feedlot receiving phase. In conclusion, housing cow-calf pairs in drylots improved BW, BCS, and milk production of cows but did not affect reproductive performance. Drylot calves had increased BW and ADG during the preweaning phase. Calf behavior at weaning and receiving was influenced by preweaning housing. Pasture calves had improved receiving phase ADG and feed efficiency but were still lighter than drylot calves after 42-d receiving phase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberskab357
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022


  • cow-calf
  • drylot
  • housing systems
  • pasture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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