Feed efficiency in once-calved and conventional systems of heifer beef production

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  • A total of 120 crossbred heifers (initial weight = 270 ± 3 kg) were used in a project to evaluate a once-calved-heifer system of beef production. They were reared on a cereal silage–grain diet and, beginning at an average age of 385 d, exposed during a 6-wk breeding period to bulls of breeds chosen for calving ease. Ninety-six heifers reared calves to weaning. The calves were weaned and the heifers were slaughtered 3, 5 or 7 mo after calving, and the feed conversion efficiency of these treatment groups was compared with that of a similar group of 32 heifers slaughtered at 457 d of age after a conventional feeding program. Feed conversion calculations included the combined cow–calf unit for heifers that had reared a calf and were based on weaning-day and end-of-test (27 Sept.) endpoints. During the post-calving period, the late-weaned cow–calf units tended to be more efficient to the point of weaning, but the early-weaned ones were significantly more efficient if the calf's performance from weaning to the end of test was considered. From the start of test to the weaning endpoint, conventionally reared heifers were significantly more efficient than early-weaned once-calved heifers on many of the bases studied. To the end-of-test endpoint, however, they did not differ significantly (e.g., 411.4 ± 20.5, vs. 402.1 ± 29.0, 441.0 ± 29.0 and 460.2 ± 29.0 MJ DE kg−1 lean product weight for conventionally reared vs. 3-, 5- and 7-mo-weaned once-calved heifers). These results suggest that animals in a once-calved-heifer system of beef production can utilize digestible energy as efficiently as those in a conventional system if conception failure and calf losses can be controlled.

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    Article (Published)
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    @1993 Newman, J. A., Jones, S. D. M., Price, M. A., Vincent, B. C. This version of this article is open access and can be downloaded and shared. The original author(s) and source must be cited.
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    • Newman, J.A., S.D.M.Jones, Price, M.A. and B.C. Vincent. (1993). Feed efficiency in once-calved and conventional systems of heifer beef production. Canadian Journal of Animal Science, 73, 915-930.
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