One big reason to supplementary feed during the breeding season

Categories: General, Research

Whether you’re a grazier or a stud-stock breeder, this recent research paper on the benefits of checking your heifer’s peri-conception and first-trimester diet will be of interest.

Over the last 23 years QSML’s Dr Viv Perry and an extensive team of local and international researchers, have been investigating the effects of protein supplementation during early pregnancy upon fetal and calf development.

Whilst there are plenty of research papers on this topic from the team already (see here), the most recent paper from their current six-year study is the first to investigate the effects of dietary protein in the heifer upon bull progeny fertility to adulthood. The study, undertaken with S.Kidman and Co heifers, concentrated on the effects of protein supplementation during the breeding season (including 60 days prior to mating) and the first 3 months of pregnancy. We’ve outlined the major takeaway from this research for you below, and we think it’s a pretty good reason to supplementary feed during the breeding season:

Supplementary feeding during the breeding season has a positive effect on male progeny fertility

  • Ensuring that your heifers have sufficient protein during the breeding season, and right through their first 3 months of pregnancy, can have a direct result on the later sexual development of the bull calves.
  • Whilst the fetus at that stage is very small, supplementation does assist in fetal development.
  • Bulls whose mothers received supplements during their first trimester went on to pass their BBSE test at an earlier age.
  • This means they are fit for sale earlier and also able to commence working earlier – upwards of a month earlier.

So what does this mean for you?

To achieve the positive effects of protein supplement, your pregnant heifers should receive sufficient protein during mating (breeding season) and early pregnancy (to 90 days of pregnancy).

The heifers in this trial were supplemented daily to achieve 12%CP in the diet (including a non-degradable protein source (soya meal) compared to the low (7%CP) unsupplemented group.

If you’re interested in reading more about the research, you can find the full results of the trial here.

This study was generously funded by the ARC (Australian Research Council), S.Kidman and Co and Ridley Agriproducts.

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