Prepartum supplement level and age at weaning: I. Effects on pre- and postpartum beef cow performance and calf performance through weaning

L. M. Shoup, A. C. Kloth, T. B. Wilson, D. González-Peña, F. A. Ireland, S. Rodriguez-Zas, Tara Felix, D. W. Shike

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objectives were to determine the interaction of prepartum supplement level and age at weaning on cow BW, BCS, milk production, reproduction, and calf performance up to weaning in a fall-calving system over 2 yr. Mature, multiparous, Angus × Simmental cows (yr 1: 326 cows, 9 pastures, BW = 632 ± 67 kg, and BCS = 5.7 ± 0.58; yr 2: 383 cows, 9 pastures, BW = 606 ± 70 kg, and BCS = 5.8 ± 0.74) were used in a split-plot design that included 3 supplement levels—no supplement (NS), low supplement (LS; 2.16 kg∙cow–1∙d–1), or high supplement (HS; 8.61 kg∙cow–1∙d–1)—and 2 ages at weaning—78 ± 11 d of age (early weaned; EW) or 186 ± 11 d of age (normal weaned; NW). Cows grazed endophyte-infected tall fescue/red clover pastures and were bunk fed supplement (70% dried distillers’ grains with solubles and 30% soybean hulls) 103 ± 11 d prepartum to 2 ± 11 d postpartum. Cow BW was greater (P < 0.01) for cows fed HS at precalving (49 ± 11 d prepartum), postcalving (26 ± 11 d postpartum), and postbreeding (81 d after AI) compared with cows fed NS and LS. Prepartum supplementation did not affect (P ≥ 0.62) calf birth BW, percent of calves dead at birth, or percent of cows calving unassisted. Prepartum supplementation tended (P = 0.10) to improve AI conception. Early weaning increased (P ≤ 0.05) AI conception and postbreeding cow BW and BCS compared with cows with NW calves. Neither prepartum supplementation nor age at weaning affected (P ≥ 0.28) overall pregnancy rate. At time of early weaning, BW was increased (P = 0.05) for steers from cows fed LS compared with steers from cows fed NS. Steer BW at time of normal weaning and ADG between early and normal weaning was greater (P < 0.01) for EW steers compared with NW steers. A year × age at weaning interaction occurred (P < 0.01) for ultrasound marbling score at time of normal weaning. In yr 1, marbling was decreased (P = 0.04) for EW steers compared with NW steers; however, in yr 2, marbling was increased (P < 0.01) for EW steers compared with NW steers. In conclusion, there was no interaction between level of supplement during late gestation and age at weaning on cow BW, BCS, milk production, AI conception, and overall pregnancy rate in mature beef cows nor in their steer progeny’s BW or ultrasound marbling. Both prepartum supplementation and early weaning improved cow BW, BCS, and reproduction. Minimal effects of dam prepartum supplement level on calf performance up to weaning were observed. Early weaning improved calf growth but had inconsistent effects on ultrasound marbling across years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4926-4935
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of animal science
Volume93
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2015

Keywords

  • Beef cattle
  • Developmental programming
  • Early weaning
  • Prepartum supplementation
  • Reproduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics

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