Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Maternal body composition in seedstock herds. 1. Grazing management strategy influences perspectives on optimal balance of production traits and maternal productivity

S. J. Lee B D , I. K. Nuberg C and W. S. Pitchford B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Cooperative Research Centre for Beef Genetic Technologies.

B School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Roseworthy Campus, SA 5371, Australia.

C School of Agriculture Food and Wine, The University of Adelaide, Waite Campus, SA 5064, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: stephen.lee@adelaide.edu.au

Animal Production Science - https://doi.org/10.1071/AN13060
Submitted: 12 February 2013  Accepted: 6 June 2014   Published online: 2 December 2016

Abstract

Seedstock breeders’ perspectives on topics associated with maternal productivity in beef cattle were investigated through the use of qualitative in-depth semi-structured interviews. Given the complexity of maternal productivity, it is possible that some issues may not be fully captured by recording performance and data analysis. This paper discusses theory emerging from content analysis of interview data on management and genetic factors affecting maternal productivity as detailed by seedstock breeders in southern Australia. Overall, 24 interviews were conducted as part of an intensive field-work component with seedstock breeders involved with the Cooperative Research Centre for Beef Genetic Technologies’ Maternal Productivity Project. Qualitative content analysis of interview data revealed a considerable divergence in attitudes to cow management with regards to grazing management, body condition fluctuation and the utilisation of body fat reserves. Specifically, production systems diverged on the basis of animal management characterised by either ‘controlled’ or ‘variable input’ feeding strategies. Variation in management approach was associated with different perspectives on the perceived importance of selecting for production traits including growth, beef yield and milk compared with selection for perceived resilience traits including increased subcutaneous fat. The results demonstrated that among seedstock breeders targeting similar end markets, substantial variation in animal selection and management exists and this requires further characterisation to ensure breeding programs and animal management are optimal.

Additional keywords: attitudes, cattle, cattle breeding.


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