Effect of Diet on Replacement Beef Heifer Growth and Reproductive Performance

Janice G. P. Bowman, Bok F. Sowell


One hundred-one crossbred beef heifers (average weight 256.1 kg) were used to evaluate the effects of diet during an 84-day period, on growth and reproductive performance. The four treatments were: 1) grass hay; 2) grass hay + 0.9 kg/day barley; 3) grass hay + 1.8 kg/day barley; and 4) alfalfa hay. Heifers were assigned randomly to 12 pens by weight (three pens/treatment). Prior to feeding, barley was cracked through a roller-mill. Heifers consuming alfalfa hay or grass hay + 1.8 kg barley gained 39% faster (0.68 and 0.74 kg/day, respectively; P = 0.01) than heifers consuming grass hay alone (0.51 kg/day). Heifers consuming grass hay + 0.9 kg barley were intermediate in average daily gain (ADG; 0.63 kg/day). Hay intake was 16% greater (P < 0.10) by heifers consuming alfalfa hay, grass hay, and grass hay + 0.9 kg barley compared with those consuming grass hay + 1.8 kg barley (average 8.1 vs 7.0 kg/day). Using costs (USD) of $0.066/kg, $0.099/kg, and $0.0935/kg for grass hay, alfalfa hay, and barley, respectively, feed cost/day was greatest (P < 0.01) for alfalfa hay ($0.81/day), intermediate for the grass hay + barley diets (average $0.63/day), and lowest for grass hay ($0.53/day). Cost/kg gain was less (P < 0.10) for grass hay + 1.8 kg barley compared with alfalfa hay. No diet differences (P > 0.70) were found in reproductive performance of the heifers. Feeding replacement heifers alfalfa hay resulted in performance equivalent to feeding grass hay + 1.8 kg barley, but the alfalfa hay diet had a higher cost.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/jas.v5i3.11635


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Copyright (c) 2017 Janice G. P. Bowman, Bok F. Sowell

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Journal of Agricultural Studies   ISSN 2166-0379

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