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1 November 2007 Effects of Weaning Date and Prepartum Protein Supplementation on Cow Performance and Calf Growth
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Two experiments evaluated effects of weaning date on cow body condition score (BCS) and calf growth. In Experiment 1, 134 March-calving cows were used in a four-year experiment. Calves were weaned 18 August or 7 November and cows were fed 0 or 0.45 kg protein supplement (42% crude protein) three days per week from 1 December to 28 February while grazing upland range in a 2 by 2 factorial arrangement of treatments. In Experiment 2, spring calving cows (year 1, n = 97; year 2, n = 104) were assigned randomly to one of eight weaning dates at 2-week intervals from 19 August to 25 November. In Experiment 1, weaning in August increased cow BCS precalving (P < 0.001) and prebreeding (P < 0.001), but not pregnancy rates (P = 0.56). Cows fed supplemental protein had greater BCS precalving (P < 0.001) and prebreeding (P = 0.001) than nonsupplemented cows, but pregnancy rates were similar (P = 0.27). Calves born to cows fed supplemental protein prepartum had greater weaning weight than calves born to nonsupplemented cows regardless of whether weaning occurred in August (P = 0.001) or November (P < 0.001). Effects of weaning date on feedlot performance interacted with supplementation treatment. Calves born to cows fed supplement that were weaned in November generated the greatest net returns. In Experiment 2, BCS decreased linearly (P < 0.001) as date of weaning was delayed from August to November. Nursing calf gain increased cubically (P < 0.0004) and weaned calf gain from August to November increased quadratically (P < 0.002). Protein supplementation did not affect cow pregnancy rate, but calves born to cows fed protein supplement had greater pre- and postweaning gains. Cow BCS decreased as weaning date was moved later in the year but cow pregnancy rate was not affected by weaning date.

Received: 11 June 2006; Accepted: 1 August 2007; Published: 1 November 2007

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