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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Forage Based Livestock Systems

Effect of postweaning heifer development system on average daily gain, pregnancy rates, and subsequent feed efficiency as a pregnant heifer


This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 95 No. 12, p. 5320-5326
    Received: Aug 04, 2017
    Accepted: Sept 22, 2017
    Published: November 28, 2017

    1 Corresponding author(s):

  1. S. A. Springmana,
  2. H. R. Nielsona,
  3. T. L. Meyera and
  4. R. N. Funston 1a
  1. a University of Nebraska, West Central Research and Extension Center, North Platte 69101


A 3-yr study utilized 300 Angus-based, spring-born heifers to evaluate postweaning heifer development systems on gain, reproductive performance, and feed efficiency as a pregnant heifer. Heifers were blocked by BW and randomly assigned to graze corn residue (CR), upland range (RANGE), or were fed 1 of 2 diets in a drylot differing in energy levels: high (DLHI) or low (DLLO). Heifers developed on DLHI and DLLO were managed within the drylot for 166 d in yr 1, 150 d in yr 2, and 162 d in yr 3. Heifers developed on RANGE grazed winter range for an equivalent amount of days each yr as the DLHI and DLLO heifers. Heifers assigned to CR grazed for 103 d in yr 1, 84 d in yr 2, and 97 d in yr 3 before being transported to graze winter range for the remainder of the treatment period. All heifers were managed as a single group following the treatment period. Artificial insemination and natural mating were utilized during breeding. Percent of mature BW prior to the breeding season was greater (P = 0.02) for DLHI (67%) compared with RANGE (59%) and CR (58%). Pregnancy rates to AI were not different (P = 0.51) among treatments (59 ± 6%), and final pregnancy rates were also not different (87 ± 4%, P = 0.54). A subset of AI-pregnant heifers from each treatment were placed in a Calan gate feeding system. Heifers were allowed a 20-d acclimation period before beginning the 90 d trial at approximately 170 d in gestation. Heifers were offered ad libitum hay; amount offered was recorded daily and orts collected weekly. Initial BW was not different (P = 0.58) among treatments (459 ± 11 kg). Body weight at the end of the trial (497 ± 17 kg) was also not different (P = 0.41). Intake was not different (P = 0.33), either as DMI (10.00 ± 1.07 kg) or residual feed intake (0.018 ± 0.190). There was no difference in ADG (P = 0.36, 0.42 ± 0.23 kg/d) among treatments. Although the total development cost was not different among treatments (P = 0.99), there was a $41 difference (P < 0.01) between the mean of the most expensive diet (DLHI) and the mean of the two least expensive diets (CR and RANGE). Developing heifers to a greater prebreeding BW did not influence subsequent AI or overall pregnancy rates or feed efficiency as a pregnant heifer.

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