The Effect of Feeding Roughages of Varying Digestibility Prepartum on Energy Status and Metabolic Profiles in Beef Cows around Parturition
Department of Animal Environment and Health, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Box 234, 532 23 Skara, Sweden
The Rural Economy and Agricultural Society Sjuhärad, Box 5007, 514 05 Länghem, Sweden
Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University, Blichers Allé 20, 8830 Tjele, Denmark
Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Grønnegårdsvej 3, 1870 Frederiksberg C, Denmark
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 21 February 2020 / Revised: 12 March 2020 / Accepted: 13 March 2020 / Published: 16 March 2020
Grass silages based on timothy-meadow fescue are commonly fed to pregnant beef cows during winter. As beef cows usually are given free access to roughage for rational reasons, the use of these silages has been questioned due to their relatively high nutritional value, which may result in nutrient intakes above animal requirements and, hence, a waste of resources. Therefore, other roughage alternatives are requested, but their effects on cow intake and energy status before calving must be evaluated before applied in practice. Four diets based on timothy-meadow fescue silage, festulolium silage plus urea, reed canarygrass silage or barley straw supplemented with urea and rapeseed meal were fed in free access to mature pregnant beef cows. Timothy-meadow fescue and festulolium diets resulted in overfeeding of energy and protein and in body weight and body condition gains, whereas the opposite was observed for cows fed the other two diets. Hence, reed canarygrass or barley straw supplemented with urea and rapeseed meal prepartum may be suitable alternatives to the traditional timothy-meadow fescue diet, if cows are able to regain lost BCS during the grazing period, and may reduce winter feed costs of the cow-calf producer due to the low intakes of these diets.