Midwestern beef manufacturing works simply as effectively off pasture


University of Illinois animal scientist Dan Shike, pictured, labored with a analysis group to guage drylot methods as a substitute for pasture for beef cows and calves. Credit: University of Illinois

Beef producers within the higher Midwest know grazing land is in brief provide. With extra acres being developed or transformed to cropland, producers who need to increase their cow-calf operations are on the lookout for alternate options to conventional pasture administration.

New analysis from University of Illinois animal scientists and I-BELIEF college students exhibits cow-calf pairs will be managed in drylots all through the summer time grazing interval with few damaging penalties.

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“When we extended the drylot phase throughout the summer, we were able to get excellent performance on our drylot cows. They maintained body weight and body condition and had good reproductive rates. Everything was excellent in that regard. Calves on the drylot had increased performance throughout the pre-weaning phase, as well,” says Dan Shike, affiliate professor within the Department of Animal Sciences at U of I and lead researcher on the research.

The group in contrast Angus × Simmental cow-calf pairs on pasture and in drylots—on this case, concrete tons and open-front sheds with bedding—between May and August, repeated over two years. Broadly, they checked out progress efficiency, lactation, locomotion, and calf conduct at weaning and in the course of the feedlot receiving interval.

“Producers who want to explore drylotting have a lot of questions, so we tried to tackle as many of the big-picture answers as we could,” Shike says.

In the drylot, cows have been limit-fed a normal TMR upkeep weight loss plan, however calves had free entry to the identical weight loss plan in an adjoining creep pen. Pairs on pasture grazed obtainable forage, with calves nursing and consuming a processed creep feed three weeks previous to weaning.

The analysis group anticipated cows and calves to do as effectively or higher within the drylot, and that is simply what they discovered.

“The cows in the drylot performed exactly as we intended because we had more control over their environment and were able to formulate a ration to meet their nutritional needs. The cows in the pasture are really at the mercy of the weather,” Shike says. “Consequently, the cows on pasture had lower body weight and body condition score compared to cows in the drylot.”

Calves did higher within the drylot than pasture, once more due to the managed weight loss plan and surroundings. When it was time for weaning and cargo to the feedlot, pasture-raised calves have been considerably smaller than their drylot-raised counterparts.

“We anticipated the pasture-raised calves would have compensatory gain, and they did. They had higher rates of gain and tended to be more efficient in that receiving phase,” Shike says. “But, even after 42 days, they hadn’t caught up because they started so far behind the drylot calves in weight.”

Pasture-raised calves have been introduced into the drylot for weaning, the place they’d nose-to-nose entry to their moms in adjoining pens. Calves raised within the drylot stayed in place, however have been separated from their moms by a fence. Drylot calves appeared considerably much less confused at this phase, in response to behavioral indicators together with vocalization, consuming, strolling, and mendacity down.

After six days of weaning, calves have been transported 170 miles from the Orr Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center in Baylis to the U of I campus farms to start the feedlot phase. Surprisingly, pasture-raised calves confirmed fewer indicators of stress throughout feedlot receiving than their drylot-raised counterparts.

“We were thinking if they’re in a drylot, they’re already used to an intensive system. Maybe that will help them transition to another intensive system like the feedlot. But it didn’t give them an advantage. That was probably one of our more surprising findings,” says Josh McCann, assistant professor in animal sciences and co-author on the research.

“We think calves on pasture may have adapted faster to the feedlot because they had already gone through one transition—from the pasture to pen at weaning—and because being on pasture gives them more physical separation from their moms. We could imagine they were more mentally prepared to be separated when shipped to the feedlot. For the drylot pairs, it’s like when your kids stay home with you all day, sending them off to school becomes a little more stressful at first.”

The researchers say producers ought to contemplate a couple of potential dangers related to drylotting. In the research, they discovered a better incidence of foot and leg points, together with lameness and issues with locomotion.

Shike says, “The dairy industry certainly experienced more issues with feet and legs as they intensified and moved cows into confinement. The beef industry will have to pay attention to this issue as well, but there are things we can do in terms of how we manage bedding and drainage. Even though we had to treat some cows, it ultimately didn’t impact body weight, body condition, or reproduction. There was some labor and expense associated with treating them, though.”

Although the group did not conduct an financial evaluation, McCann notes the price of treating locomotion points is not the one expense to contemplate.

“An intensive system requires more labor and, of course, there’s the cost of feed,” he says. “There wasn’t much of a downside to the drylot system for animal performance, but producers will want to look at the economic tradeoffs for their individual operations.”

The research, “Effects of housing beef cow-calf pairs on drylot or pasture in the Midwest on production parameters and calf behavior through feedlot receiving,” is printed within the Journal of Animal Science.

Space, exercise may be critical to drylot beef heifer reproduction

More info:
Megan E Myerscough et al, Effects of housing beef cow–calf pairs on drylot or pasture within the Midwest on manufacturing parameters and calf conduct by way of feedlot receiving, Journal of Animal Science (2021). DOI: 10.1093/jas/skab357

Midwestern beef manufacturing works simply as effectively off pasture (2022, January 31)
retrieved 31 January 2022
from https://phys.org/news/2022-01-midwestern-beef-production-pasture.html

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