Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



Range Beef Cow Symposium XXIII, December 3-5, 2013, Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, Rapid City, SD.


Copyright © 2013 S.L. Lake, R. Arias, P. Gunn, and G.A. Bridges.


Effective replacement heifer development is a critical segment of the integrated management program in an efficient beef cow production system. The most critical factor determining the success of any heifer development program is nutrition. Most efforts are concentrated in providing the right amount and quality of feed to achieve gains from 1.5 to 2.0 lb/day, so heifers can reach 65% of their mature BW by the day of breeding. Approximately 80% of the U.S. cow-herds are spring calving, which means that producers utilizing estrous synchronization and AI are keeping their heifers in a feedlot environment until heifers are inseminated. Immediately following AI, heifers are typically moved to pasture. It is known that maternal recognition of pregnancy takes place around d 15 - 17 post-insemination and that transporting animals near this time compromises conception rates. However, moving heifers within the first 5 days post-insemination does not cause this reduction. Although, research suggests that conception rates are compromised when heifers are placed on early growth pasture forages. We hypothesized that feeding this high moisture pasture forage at turnout is limiting DMI which in turn causes a temporary energy deficiency that results in temporary heifer weight loss during the critical stages of early embryonic development and maternal recognition of pregnancy. Therefore, it is beneficial to ensure heifers maintain the same plane of nutrition after breeding, at least until day 25 when the embryo should be completely attached to the uterus. If this is true, maintaining a positive plane of nutrition on heifers after breeding will increase 1st service conception rates, improving herd fertility and longevity.

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