The effects on cow performance and calf birth and weaning weight of replacing grass silage with brewers grains in a barley straw diet offered to pregnant beef cows of two different breeds
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The effects on cow and calf performance of replacing grass silage with brewers grains in diets based on barley straw and fed to pregnant beef cows are reported. Using a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement of breed and diet, cows pregnant by artificial insemination (n = 34) of two breeds (cross-bred Limousin, n = 19 and pure-bred Luing, n = 15) were fed diets ad libitum which consisted of either (g/kg dry matter) barley straw (664) and grass silage (325; GS) or barley straw (783) and brewers grains (206, BG) and offered as total mixed rations. From gestation day (GD) 168 until 266, individual daily feed intakes were recorded and cow body weight (BW) and body condition score (BCS) measured weekly. Calving date, calf sex, birth and weaning BW, and calf age at weaning were also recorded. Between GD 168 and 266, cross-bred Limousin cows gained more weight than Luing cows (p < 0.05) and cows offered BG gained more weight than cows offered GS (p < 0.001). Luing cows lost more BCS than cross-bred Limousin cows (p < 0.05), but diet did not affect BCS. There were no differences in dry matter intake as a result of breed or diet. Calf birth BW, however, was greater for cows fed BG than GS (44 vs. 38 kg, SEM 1.0, p < 0.001) with no difference between breeds. At weaning, calves born to BG-fed cows were heavier than those born to GS-fed cows (330 vs. 286 kg, SEM 9.3, p < 0.01). In conclusion, replacement of grass silage with brewers grains improved the performance of beef cows and increased calf birth and weaning BW. Further analysis indicated that the superior performance of cows offered the BG diet was most likely due to increases in protein supply which may have improved both energy and protein supply to the foetus.
Journal Title/Title of Proceedings
Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition
Copyright © 2015 Blackwell Verlag GmbH This is the accepted version of the above article, which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jpn.12410.