Influence of early weaning beef cows on the performance of male progeny and the need for winter protein supplementation


One hundred and three Hereford × Angus crossbred, spring-calving cows were used to determine the influence of early weaning performance of their male progeny and the need for cowherd winter supplementation. Treatments were early weaned (EW; 115-d of age) and normal weaned calves (NW; 220-d of age). Both intact and castrated male progeny were randomly allotted to early and normal weaning calf management treatments. Following summer grazing and weaning protocols, cows within each weaning group were randomly assigned to receive winter supplementation treatments of LOW (1.26 kg/hd/d) or HIGH (1.81 kg/hd/d) amounts of a protein supplement containing 450 g/kg CP (DM basis). Cows whose calves were weaned early gained more BW and BCS (P < 0.0001) during the summer grazing season than cows with normally weaned calves. Early weaned calves had higher ADG between weaning dates; WDA and BW by age 242 d (P < 0.05) than normally weaned calves. Normal weaned steer calves ended the experiment with the lightest BW (P < 0.05) when compared to early weaned steer calves, early weaned bull calves, and normal weaned bull calves. At calving time the EWLOW supplement fed cows had greater (P = 0.04) BCS but similar (P = 0.74) BW when compared with cows with normally weaned calves that received 100% of their supplement (NWHIGH). Early weaning has the potential to reduce the amount of supplement required during the winter grazing period.

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Llewellyn, D. , Schlickau, E. , Marston, T. , Harborth, K. , Breiner, R. , Unruh, J. and Dikeman, M. (2013) Influence of early weaning beef cows on the performance of male progeny and the need for winter protein supplementation. Agricultural Sciences, 4, 701-708. doi: 10.4236/as.2013.412095.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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