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Feeding Beef Cattle II: Fetal Programming--Rethinking Cow/Calf Feeding Programs

Don Llewellyn , Sarah M. Smith , Min Du ,
Online Only
Optimizing the reproductive performance of beef cows and growth of the offspring through nutrition is of paramount importance. Management practices that are employed today may have benefits in the short-term as well as implications in the future. Fetal programming is essentially the environmental effects on gene expression which can be brought about by nutrition and physical conditions. From a nutritional standpoint, much remains to be learned about fetal programming, but it is known that nutrition of beef cows at critical times during pregnancy can have long-term effects on progeny performance. The provision of nutrients to beef cows during late gestation has been shown to positively influence not only weaning weight, but also hot carcass weight and marbling score of male progeny. It is also notable that data suggests the potential for strategically targeted maternal nutrition to bring about increases in weaning weight and improvements in subsequent reproductive performance of female progeny. Other researchers have found a relationship between maternal nutrition and the future health of calves. All of these finding are extremely significant when considering the time elapsed between feeding and manifestation of the effects. Taken together, the long-term implications dictate that as producers review their feeding programs, it is essential to weigh short-term cost savings with long-term goals and profitability.

Department(s): Agriculture
Pages / Length: 5
Publication Date: 2012-12-01

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