A recent study by the South-Florida Beef-Forage Program looks at whether supplementation of cows during the entire late-gestation would increase cow reproductive success and calf performance after birth.

In 2016, the South-Florida Beef-Forage Program was granted funds by The Florida Beef Enhancement Board to research “different supplementation strategies for pregnant beef females and its impacts on performance of cows and calves” per to an article in the program’s website outlining the draft summary of both studies that were conducted. Explore the details of the second study below. 

Details of South-Florida Beef-Forage Program Study #2

Each study operated under the assumption that “Body condition score (BCS) at calving is the most important factor that influences overall pregnancy rate and calving distribution of beef cows,” and that “poor nutrition during gestation can alter fetal organ formation and decrease offspring’s future performance (fetal-programming).” 

According to the article, the second study, titled “Supplementing cows during late-gestation?” utilized the hypothesis that “cows supplemented before calving, regardless of length of supplementation, would have greater reproductive performance than non-supplemented cows,” and that “supplementing 4.50 lb/day for 6 weeks after weaning would reduce feed costs while maintaining cow reproduction success, but it would not cause fetal-programming effects.”  Researchers were looking at whether “the best nutritional management for the cows [would also] result in the best impact on future offspring performance.”

The study supplemented cows for either 6 weeks or 12 weeks, and a control group was given no supplementation. Researchers maintained that both supplemented groups had similar BCS at the time of calving, indicating “that a 6-week period of supplementation was more cost effective than a 12-week supplementation period, because cows supplemented for 6 weeks achieved the same BCS at calving and had half of the feeding labor costs compared to cows supplemented for 12 weeks,” though the study will be conducted for another year to confirm the results. 

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