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Mette Olaf Nielsen

The effect of feeding roughages of varying digestibility prepartum on energy status and metabolic profiles in beef cows around parturition

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  • Mikaela Jardstedt, Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet
  • ,
  • Elisabet Nadeau, Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet, The Rural Economy and Agricultural Society Sjuhärad
  • ,
  • Mette Olaf Nielsen
  • Peder Nørgaard, Kobenhavns Universitet
  • ,
  • Anna Hessle, Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet

Resource efficient winter-feeding of mature pregnant beef cows requires knowledge of how different roughage-based feeding strategies affect cow intake and energy status. Four diets based on traditional timothy-meadow fescue silage (TM), festulolium silage plus urea (FE), reed canarygrass silage (RC) or barley straw supplemented with urea and rapeseed meal (BR), were fed ad libitum for 16 weeks prepartum to 36 Hereford cows. Postpartum, cows were fed the same diet before release on pasture. Individual data on cow intake, changes in body weight (BW), body condition score (BCS) and plasma metabolites, calf birth and weaning weights were recorded. The TM and FE diets resulted in increased BW and BCS prepartum (p < 0.001), while the RC and BR diets resulted in a catabolic state, as indicated by a loss of BCS, lower insulin levels and higher non-esterified fatty acid levels in cows fed BR (p < 0.001). There were no dietary effects on calf parameters (p > 0.29). Feeding RC or BR prepartum might be a possible alternative to traditional timothy-meadow fescue silage if cows are allowed to regain lost BCS during the grazing period. The influence on cow reproductive- and calf performance should be considered before making this management change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number496
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • Beef cow, Body condition score, Energy status, Gestation, Metabolic profile, Roughage

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