Effect of post-weaning residual feed intake classification on grazed grass intake and performance in pregnant beef heifers.

Manafiazar, G., Basarab, J.A., Baron, V.S., McKeown, L.E., Doce, R.R., Swift, M.-L., Undi, M., Wittenberg, K.M., and Ominski, K.H. (2015). "Effect of post-weaning residual feed intake classification on grazed grass intake and performance in pregnant beef heifers.", Canadian Journal of Animal Science, 95(3), pp. 369-381. doi : 10.4141/CJAS-2014-184  Access to full text


There is limited knowledge of how cattle tested for feed efficiency under drylot conditions perform when they graze on summer pasture. Residual feed intake adjusted for end of test backfat thickness (RFIfat) was determined on 171 beef crossbred heifers under drylot conditions over 2 yr using an automated system. Upon completion of the test, the 10 lowest and 10 highest RFIfat (–0.54±0.17 vs. 0.58±0.15 kg DM d-1) heifers in 2012, and the 14 lowest and 14 highest RFIfat (−0.47±0.16 vs. 0.53±0.19 kg DM d-1) heifers in 2013 were selected and placed on meadow bromegrass pasture to investigate the effect of RFIfat ranking on their grass intake and performance on the pasture. The pasture adaptation period (8 d in 2012 and 19 d in 2013) was followed by a pasture feed intake experiment during which heifers were dosed twice daily (0815 and 1415) with 500 g of C32-labeled feed pellet for 13 d (day 0 to 12) and fecal sampled twice daily (0815 and 1415) from day 8 to 12. Forage DM intake on pasture for each heifer was determined using the double alkane (C31/C32) methodology. High and low RFIfat heifers were similar in body weight (BW), backfat and rump fat thickness, and average daily gain (ADG) during the grazing trial period, except backfat thickness at the end of test period. However, low RFIfat heifers consumed 5.3% less forage when expressed as kg DM d-1 (8.20±0.08 vs. 8.66±0.09, P<0.001) and 5.1% less when expressed as a percentage of body weight (1.86±0.02 vs. 1.96±0.02% of BW, P<0.001) compared with high RFIfat heifers. RFIfat measured under drylot conditions in growing heifers was positively correlated to grazed RFIfat determined in pregnant heifers (rp=0.30, P=0.04). These results suggest that beef heifers classified as low RFIfat during the post-weaning drylot period had lower dry matter intake as heifers in their first pregnancy grazing tame pasture, with no negative impact on their body weight, back-fat thickness, and ADG compared with their high RFIfat herdmates.

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