Influence of prepartum dietary energy on beef cow performance and calf growth and carcass characteristics

T. B. Wilson, D. B. Faulkner, D. W. Shike

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    15 Scopus citations


    Objectives were to evaluate the effects of prepartum dietary energy intake on cow performance as well as performance and carcass characteristics of subsequent progeny. Spring-calving, mature cows (n=106 total) were blocked by BW and allotted to 1 of 2 treatments: ground hay and dried distillers grains plus solubles (REQ: TDN=61.8%, CP=11.0%, fat=2.1%), or corn bran and ground cornstalks (HE: TDN=70.3%, CP=10.0%, fat=5.7%). Treatments were limit-fed as isonitrogenous rations with REQ and HE providing 100% and 125% of TDN requirements, respectively, and were fed from 83±10 d prepartum to calving. All cows were fed a common diet postpartum. Cow BW and BCS were recorded at the beginning of the feeding period, 24 h post-calving, and at breeding. Milk production was estimated via the weigh-suckle-weigh technique 65±9 and 120±9 d postpartum. Calf BW was measured at birth and at weaning (120±9 d of age). Calves (n=86) were fed a common feedlot diet beginning 2 d after weaning, and individual feed intake was monitored using GrowSafe. Progeny were slaughtered in 3 groups at an average 12th rib fat thickness of 1.3 cm. From initiation of experiment to breeding, cow BW change was greater (P<0.01) and BCS change tended to be greater (P=0.09) for HE relative to REQ cows. Birth BW was greater (P=0.02) for calves born to cows fed HE with no increase (P=0.30) in percentage of unassisted births. There were no effects (P≥0.27) of treatment on calving date, milk production, or subsequent pregnancy rate. Calf weaning BW, initial feedlot BW, final BW, and days on feed were not affected (P≥0.20) by treatment. Feedlot DMI, ADG, and G:F were not different (P≥0.35). There was no effect (P≥0.27) of treatment on progeny morbidity. Although progeny born to HE dams tended (P=0.10) to have greater marbling scores at weaning, there was no effect (P≥0.60) of treatment on carcass marbling score or other carcass traits. Feeding cows 125% of TDN requirement during late gestation increased cow BW change and progeny birth body weight. Feeding cows 125% of TDN requirement during late gestation had no effect on pregnancy rate or progeny performance.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)21-27
    Number of pages7
    JournalLivestock Science
    StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


    • Beef cow
    • Fetal programming
    • Gestational nutrition
    • Overfeeding

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Animal Science and Zoology
    • veterinary(all)


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