Farm Table says:
The effect of maternal gestational nutrition
What is the problem?
Protein is the major limiting nutrient during pregnancy in range heifers.
This project examined the effect of protein supplementation during early gestation (60 days prior to conception to 98 days post conception) on the feedlot performance, feed efficiency and carcass characteristics of the bull progeny.
The aim of the project was to examine the cost effectiveness of protein supplementation during this short period on the performance of the progeny.
What did the research involve?
Heifers (n=360) were selected from the Channel country of South Western Queensland and transported to a custom built feedlot in South Australia where they were individually fed for the entire pregnancy.
The heifers calved and were monitored with their progeny monthly until weaning.
Entire male progeny were transported to Armidale for the 70day NFI trial.
At the end of this stage they were slaughtered at a commercial abattoir.
All organs were sampled and weighed and standard carcass assessments completed.
What were the key findings?
The results from this study demonstrate that nutritional management of cows during pregnancy has the potential to alter progeny appetite and carcass composition at slaughter.
Maternal protein supplementation during early pregnancy in the current study improved progeny EMA, dressing% and retail beef yield as compared to low maternal protein intake.
The levels of low protein intake were similar to what could be encountered under extensive northern Australian grazing conditions where protein is often limiting (Bortolussi et al, 2005).
Therefore, maternal nutrition during early gestation could be a critical management window to maximise offspring carcass returns.
Improved understanding of the mechanisms is needed to maximise the benefits of manipulating production and carcass traits in beef cattle through nutrient supplementation targeted to a specific developmental stage