Legesse, G., Small, J. A., Scott, S. L., Kebreab, E., Crow, G. H., Block, H. C., Robins, C. D., Khakbazan, M. and McCaughey, W. P. 2012. Bioperformance evaluation of various summer pasture and winter feeding strategies for cow-calf production. Can. J. Anim. Sci. 92: 89-102. Bioperformance of two summer pasture and four winter feeding cow-calf production strategies in the western Canadian Parkland was evaluated. Diet composition and animal data were collected over 5 production years. Each production year began with fixed-time artificial insemination (TAI) of cows and turnout of cow-calf pairs (n=288 yr-1 including 76 primiparous replacement cows) assigned to either alfalfa-grass (AG, n=9 paddocks) or grass (G, n=9 paddocks) pastures until weaning. Post-weaning, pregnant cows (n=240 yr-1) were assigned to either extended-grazing (EG, n=120) of dormant regrowth of perennial pastures and swathed annual crops, or one of three diets fed in a drylot (DL): hay (HY, n=40), straw/barley (SB, n=40; 70% oat straw:30% steam-rolled barley grain DM), and silage/straw (SS, n=40; 40% barley silage:60% oat straw DM). Common diets were used for all treatment groups between the weaning and winter feeding period, as well as between the pre-calving and summer grazing period. Cow and calf body weight (BW) gains were higher (P<0.05) for AG than G pasture until the third production year and the advantage diminished as the carrying capacity declined. The latter may be attributed to a lack of spring/summer moisture. Further, G pastures required more nitrogen fertilizer to achieve the same level of bioperformance as that of AG pastures in years 4 and 5. Cows in the EG treatment maintained BW better than those in the DL treatment (especially those cows receiving the SS diet) except in year 5 (P<0.05) in which drought resulted in lower body weights for cows in the EG treatment. On all treatments, cows maintained BCS that supported reproductive function; however, fertility to TAI was lowest (P<0.05) in years 4 and 5. Cows in the DL group had a 1.8 times greater risk of being culled before turnout and as a result lower (P<0.05) rates of calf survival to weaning. In conclusion, AG pastures and EG are important alternatives to further develop for cow-calf production in western Canada.
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