Nutrition and Reproduction
by Meghan Richey for Angus Productions Inc.
“Fertility and reproductive traits are lowly heritable, so we need to manage for them,” said Rick Funston. “You can do everything right with genetics in your program, but if you manage poorly you can change all that potential very rapidly.”
Funston spoke Jan. 29 at the Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle symposium hosted in conjunction with the 2010 Cattle Industry Annual Convention and Trade Show in San Antonio, Texas.
He shared a few tidbits for successful nutritional management of a cow herd:
- Body condition score (BCS) is important, but even more important is the females’ current weight trend. “I would much rather breed a thin cow on an increasing plane of nutrition than try to breed a fat cow on a declining plane of nutrition,” he said.
- When dietary protein falls below 7%, the cows can't eat enough to meet their requirement so you have to supplement. However, excessive protein, either degraded intake protein (DIP) or undegraded intake protein (UIP), can also be a problem if total energy is inadequate. You need balanced protein and energy.
- A mineral supplement is best given 45 days before calving and again before weaning. Feeding ionophores offers real benefits to cows.
- Try feeding dried distillers’ grains (DDGs). “I’m convinced there’s something in DDGs that has a positive effect on fertility,” Funston said. “I don’t yet know what that something may be, but I truly believe there’s something there we haven’t learned yet.”
- Feeding fat is not a cure-all. “If your repro rates are poor to begin with, you probably have a better chance of seeing a beneficial difference from feeding fat than if your repro rates were acceptable,” he explained. “However, that beneficial effect still probably would not be anything more significant than would be experienced by feeding any supplement to cows in poor condition. If you're trying to decide if you should supplement fat, the bottom line should be its affordability and the current condition of your cows. If you have low repro rates and you can get fat cheap, go ahead and feed it. Otherwise you can probably skip it.”
The ARSBC program was developed by the Beef Cattle Reproduction Task Force to improve understanding and application of reproductive technologies, including AI, estrus synchronization and factors affecting male fertility. For additional coverage — including summaries, proceedings and audio for each presentation — visit the newsroom at www.appliedreprostrategies.com. For API coverage of the Cattle Industry Convention, visit the newsroom at www.4cattlemen.com.
Editor’s Note: This article is available as a news release to redistribute per an agreement between the symposium hosts and Angus Productions Inc. Click here to submit a request for a high-resolution photo of the speaker.