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

Effect of herbage allowance on productive and reproductive responses of primiparous beef cows grazing on Campos grassland

Martín Claramunt A D , Andrea Fernández-Foren B and Pablo Soca C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Centro Universitario Regional del Este, Universidad de la República, Route 8 km 281, 33000, Treinta y Tres, Uruguay.

B Laboratorio de Técnicas Nucleares, Facultad de Veterinaria, Universidad de la República, Laplaces, 1550, Montevideo, Uruguay.

C Departamento de Producción Animal y Pasturas, EEMAC Facultad de Agronomía, Universidad de la República, Route 3 km 363, 60000, Paysandú, Uruguay.

D Corresponding author. Email: martinclaramunt@gmail.com

Animal Production Science - https://doi.org/10.1071/AN16601
Submitted: 7 September 2016  Accepted: 9 February 2017   Published online: 24 March 2017

Abstract

The effects of two levels of herbage allowance (HA, kg DM/kg liveweight (LW)) on forage mass and chemical composition, cow body condition score, cow LW, stocking rate, productive and reproductive responses were evaluated during two consecutive years. Eighty primiparous spring-calving beef cows were allocated to a completely randomised block design of two HA that had an annual average of 2.5 (low) and 4.0 kg DM/kg LW (high) from –150 to 195 days postpartum. The grazing system was continuous, and the put-and-take method was employed to adjust HA. At 86 ± 12 days postpartum, all cows were submitted to calf suckling restrictions with nose plates (12 days) and dietary flushing (2 kg/cow.day of whole-rice bran for 22 days), 6 days before bull introduction. Forage mass was affected by HA (P = 0.004) and year (P = 0.014); the high HA had a greater forage mass than the low HA (1474 vs 1212 ± 86 kg DM/ha; P < 0.05), and Year 2 had a greater forage mass than Year 1 (1545 vs 1134 ± 78 kg DM/ha; P < 0.05). Stocking rate was affected by HA and season (P = 0.0004) interaction. The stocking rate during autumn and spring was greater in low than high HA, and no differences were identified in winter and summer. The body condition score was improved in high HA during autumn and resulted in a greater winter (mid-gestation) body condition score than the low HA without differences during spring-summer (postpartum). Cow LW was lower during autumn, winter and early postpartum (16 days postpartum) in low HA in Year 1 than high HA of Year 1 and high and low HA cows in Year 2. Furthermore, the probability of total pregnancies (0.88 vs 0.59 ± 0.07; P = 0.01) and the calf weight adjusted to 205 days (194 vs 175 ± 16 kg; P < 0.05) were greater in high HA. Calf weight adjusted to 205 days (Year 1: 192 vs Year 2: 177 ± 16 kg; P < 0.05) and survival curves of postpartum anoestrus (P = 0.01) were affected by year but did not affect the probability of conception, early or total pregnancies. In conclusion, the reproductive and productive responses of primiparous beef cows grazing Campos grasslands were improved in high HA and could contribute to alleviating adverse climatic conditions effects.

Additional keywords: anoestrus, calf weight, forage allowance, grazing management, pregnancy, rangelands.


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