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ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Nutrition, Growth and Physiology » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #369867

Research Project: Improve Nutrient Management and Efficiency of Beef Cattle and Swine

Location: Nutrition, Growth and Physiology

Title: Alternative heifer development systems utilizing corn residue and cover crops

item SPEER, H - University Of Nebraska
item RILEY, H - University Of Nebraska
item Cushman, Robert - Bob
item Freetly, Harvey
item DREWNOSKI, MARY - University Of Nebraska

Submitted to: Journal of Animal Science Supplement
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/5/2020
Publication Date: 11/30/2020
Citation: Speer, H., Riley, H., Cushman, R., Freetly, H., Drewnoski, M. 2020. Alternative heifer development systems utilizing corn residue and cover crops [abstract]. Journal of Animal Science. 98(Supplement 3):128.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Spring-born heifers (n = 1,012) weaned at 148 ± 17 d were used in a 3-yr study to evaluate performance in winter development systems which utilized cover crop and corn residue grazing. Heifers were assigned to 1 of 3 treatments: grazing corn residue with dried distillers grains (CD) or wheat midds (CW) supplementation, or grazing late summer planted oat-brassica cover crop followed by corn residue supplemented dried distillers grains (CC). Grazing of corn residue (CD and CW) and cover crop (CC) began in early November. Supplementation during the corn residue phase was adjusted to target ~55% of mature BW (338 kg) at breeding. After 63 d, CC were moved to corn residue; on d 77 CD and CW began receiving grower ration. In mid-February (d 98), heifers were comingled and managed in a single group. Breeding season began in June and lasted for 29 d. Prior to corn residue grazing, ADG of CC was greater (0.76 kg/d; P<0.01) than CD or CW (0.58 kg/d and 0.49 kg/d, respectively). Gain during the last 35 d of the winter period for CC was 0.13 kg/d less than CW (P<0.01) but not different from CD. Overall winter ADG was greater (P<0.05) for CC (0.62 kg/d) than CD (0.53 kg/d) or CW (0.50 kg/d). Percent of mature BW prior to breeding was 52% for CC and 50% for CD and CW. May reproductive tract scores did not differ (P=0.26) between CC and CW but were greater (P<0.05) in CC than CD. Pregnancy rates were affected by treatment (P<0.01), with CC (76%) being greater than CD (68%) and CW (64%). Utilizing oat-brassica cover crops early in the winter followed by a lower rate of gain while grazing corn residue appear to be effective for developing beef heifers.