A 4-yr study was conducted at Corona Range and Livestock Research Center, Corona, NM, to establish if a protein-dense self-fed supplement could substitute for a traditional hand-fed (range cube) supplement that is less protein dense and minimize or maintain cow BW and BCS during late gestation and the subsequent steer progeny feedlot performance, health, and economic viability. Late gestation cows received one of 3 supplementation strategies: 1) 36% CP cottonseed meal base supplement (CSM; positive control) fed 3 times per week, 2) self-fed supplement (SMP) comprising 50% animal protein sources (blood meal and feather meal) and 50% trace mineral package, or 3) brief and intermittent supplementation of CSM based on periods of acute environmental stress (VAR; negative control) by ranch management. Initiation of supplementation varied across years due to changing forage conditions and climatically imposed grazing constraints but always ended approximately 2 wks before calving each year. Across all 4 yr, supplement consumption averaged 0.65, 0.21, and 0.04 kg·head(-1)·d(-1) for CSM, SMP, and VAR, respectively. After weaning, steers were preconditioned for 45 d and were received and treated as custom fed commercial cattle at a feedlot in mid November each year. Cow BW and BCS were not influenced (P ≥ 0.13) by prepartum supplementation; however, the strategy did have an effect on BW and BCS change with cows managed in the VAR group. Cows managed in the VAR group lost the greatest (P < 0.05) amount of BW and BCS whereas no differences were measured between CSM and SMP groups. Prepartum supplementation strategies did not influence (P = 0.98) pregnancy rates. Calf weaning, initial feedlot and final BW, and HCW were unaffected (P ≥ 0.80) by prepartum supplementation of the dam. Steers from dams fed CSM and VAR had a greater percentage treated for sickness than SMP steers (P = 0.03), which resulted in a tendency (P = 0.07) for medicine costs to be greater in steers from CSM and VAR cows. The use of a self-fed package supplement was equally effective as use of a traditional hand-fed, oilseed-based supplement in maintaining BW and BCS during late gestation. In addition, these results imply that although nutrition treatment of cows during the prenatal period had no effect on calf growth performance, calves from cows fed SMP had improved feedlot health.
- Beef CattleFetal ProgrammingProtein SupplementationReproduction