Agricultural Research Division of IANR
Extending Grazing In Heifer Development Systems Decreases Cost Without Compromising Production
Date of this Version
Proceedings, Western Section, American Society of Animal Science Vol. 60, 2009
Three experiments compared heifer development systems. In Exp. 1, 299 heifers (253 ± 2 kg) from 3 yr were used to compare dry lot (DL) to grazing corn residue (CR) post weaning. Heifers in the DL consumed a common diet after weaning for 187 d until breeding. The CR heifers grazed for 145 d with a supplement (0.45 kg/d; 28% CP) and were then fed in the DL until breeding. In Exp. 2, 270 heifers (225 ± 2 kg) in 3 yr grazed Sandhills winter range (WR) or CR with a supplement (0.45 kg/d; 28% CP) post weaning. In Exp. 3, 180 heifers (262 ± 3 kg) in 2 yr grazed Eastern Nebraska WR or CR with a supplement (0.45 – 0.90 kg/d; 29% CP) post weaning. The CR heifers had lower (P < 0.001) ADG before breeding compared to DL or WR heifers in Exp. 1 and 2, but WR and CR were similar (P = 0.66) in Exp. 3. The DL and WR heifers were heavier (P < 0.003) than CR at breeding and pregnancy diagnosis in Exp. 1 and 2, but similar (P = 0.62) in Exp. 3. The percentage of heifers pubertal at breeding was greater (P < 0.001) for DL than CR in Exp. 1, for WR than CR in yr 1 and 2 of Exp. 2 (P < 0.01), but similar (P = 0.36) in Exp. 3. Pregnancy rate to AI was lower (P = 0.08) for CR than DL heifers in Exp. 1, but not different (P = 0.89) in Exp. 3. Final pregnancy rate was not affected (P ≥ 0.27) in Exp. 1, 2 or 3. In Exp. 2,, yr 2, CR heifers required (P = 0.01) more calving assistance than WR. Milk production of WR heifers was greater (P = 0.04) than CR in Exp. 3. Calf weaning BW, two-year old AI (Exp. 1 and 3) and final pregnancy rates (Exp. 1, 2 and 3) were not different (P > 0.10). Development grazing CR reduced cost by $45/pregnancy compared to DL, but cost of WR was similar to CR. Development grazing CR reduces ADG before breeding without sacrificing final pregnancy rate. Development grazing WR increases milk production, but does not increase weaning BW. Grazing CR during heifer development reduces cost compared to DL. Grazing CR or WR is suitable for heifer development at similar cost.