In Exp. 1, 31, 24, and 17 mature, pregnant Simmental x Angus cows (initial BW = 662.0 ± 10.4 kg) in each of 3 yr were used to determine the efficacy of stockpiled orchardgrass, limit-fed corn, or ad libitum hay for maintaining cows in mid- to late gestation, respectively. In Exp. 2, 24 mature, pregnant crossbred cows (initial BW = 677.7 ± 9.4 kg) per treatment in each of 3 yr were used to determine the efficacy of stockpiled orchardgrass, limit-fed corn, or ad libitum hay for maintaining cows in late gestation and early lactation, respectively. Each year, cows were assigned to treatment by BW. From November to February or from January to April, respectively, nutritional needs for mid- to late gestation (Exp. 1) or late gestation and early lactation (Exp. 2) were met either by 1) rotating cows on approximately 15.2 or 21.7 ha of predominantly orchardgrass pasture, set aside and fertilized in late August, 2) limit-feeding approximately 5.8 kg of whole shelled corn, 1.1 kg of a pelleted supplement, and 1.2 kg of hay daily, or 3) ad libitum feeding of round-baled hay. During extreme weather conditions, cows grazing stockpiled orchardgrass were limit-fed a grain-based diet. Postcalving weight (P < 0.10) was greatest for limit-fed cows in Exp. 1 and lowest for cows grazed on stockpiled orchardgrass; cows given ad libitum access to hay were intermediate in weight and did not differ from cows limit-fed or cows grazed on stockpiled orchardgrass (641.8, 657.4, and 634.0 kg, respectively). Calving date, calf birth and weaning weight, and conception rate did not differ among treatments (P > 0.15) in Exp. 1. In Exp. 2, weight at weaning did not differ among treatments (P > 0.17); however, postcalving weight (P < 0.01) was greatest for cows given ad libitum access to hay, intermediate for limit-fed cows, and lowest for cows grazed on stockpiled orchardgrass (674.8, 652.4, and 624.5 kg). Body condition score at any time point did not differ among treatments (P > 0.38), nor did calving date, calf birth and weaning weights, and conception rate (P > 0.12). Because of the few differences in cow performance, selection of energy sources for beef cows can be made based on economics. The cost to feed a cow hay in early to mid-gestation was nearly double that of limit-feeding the corn-based diet or grazing stockpiled orchardgrass. Because of lower quality pastures, the cost to graze cows on stockpiled orchardgrass during late gestation and early lactation was not as cost effective as limit feeding a corn-based diet.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology