Special Issue "Beef Cattle: Advances for Sustainable Intensification"

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Cattle".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 May 2022 | Viewed by 7622

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Phillip Lancaster
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, USA
Interests: energy-efficient cattle; methane emissions; sustainable beef production systems
Dr. Robert Larson
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, USA
Interests: animal health; reproduction; production efficiency

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Livestock production accounts for ~15% of greenhouse gas emissions globally, with cattle representing 65% of livestock emissions. However, cattle allow human food production from the world’s 50 million square kilometers of grasslands, which account for 40% of the terrestrial area. Grasslands provide for soil carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat, and feed for wild ungulates, among other ecosystem services. Therefore, eliminating ruminant livestock and converting grasslands to cropland to feed people is likely equally detrimental to the ecosystem, especially on ecologically sensitive land. Therefore, sustainably utilizing grasslands for human food production requires the sustainable intensification of beef cattle production systems.

Areas fruitful for sustainable intensification include genetic enhancements of forage and feed crop production to reduce input use and improve animal utilization, genetic and nutritional strategies to enhance reproductive efficiency, genetic selection to improve the energetic efficiency of animals, technologies to enhance feed utilization and animal health, and the genetic enhancement of animals to reduce the impacts of biotic and abiotic stressors. The aim of this Special Issue is to present recent research and reviews in the diverse disciplines influencing sustainable beef cattle production in order to stimulate cross-disciplinary research on this important topic.

Dr. Phillip Lancaster
Dr. Robert Larson
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Beef cattle
  • Sustainable intensification
  • Forages and feeds
  • Health
  • Genetics
  • Reproduction

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Article
Evaluation of Strategies to Improve the Environmental and Economic Sustainability of Cow–Calf Production Systems
Animals 2022, 12(3), 385; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12030385 - 05 Feb 2022
Viewed by 525
Abstract
Grazing cow–calf production systems account for 60 to 70% of the greenhouse gas emissions of U.S. beef production. The objective of this analysis was to evaluate the importance of management strategies (cow maintenance energy requirements, reproductive efficiency, forage nutritive value, and forage yield) [...] Read more.
Grazing cow–calf production systems account for 60 to 70% of the greenhouse gas emissions of U.S. beef production. The objective of this analysis was to evaluate the importance of management strategies (cow maintenance energy requirements, reproductive efficiency, forage nutritive value, and forage yield) on the sustainability of cow–calf production systems using a sensitivity analysis in a production systems model. The Beef Cattle Systems Model was used to simulate a cow–calf production system in the Kansas Flint Hills using Angus genetics over a 24 year time period. The model was modified to create variation among cow herds in the base net energy for the maintenance requirement (NEm_Req), postpartum interval (PPI), grazed forage digestibility (Forage_TDN), and forage yield per hectare (Forage_Yield). The model was run for 1000 iterations/herds of a 100-cow herd. A stepwise regression analysis in conjunction with standardized regression analysis was used to identify important predictors of an indicator of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission intensity, dry matter intake per kilogram weaned, and two indicators of economic sustainability, winter feed use and returns over variable costs, using R statistical software. The most important predictor of DMI per kilogram weaned was calf weaning weight followed by NEm_Req, whereas returns over variable costs were primarily influenced by kilograms weaned per cow exposed and total purchased feed (supplement + winter feed), which were strongly influenced by NEm_Req and Forage_Yield, respectively. In conclusion, decreasing the net energy required for maintenance improved both economic and environmental sustainability, and increasing forage yield and length of the grazing season improved economic sustainability, implying that these strategies should be primary targets to enhance the sustainability of cow–calf production systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Beef Cattle: Advances for Sustainable Intensification)
Article
Genomic Analysis of Purebred and Crossbred Angus Cows Quantifies Heterozygosity, Breed, and Additive Effects on Components of Reproduction
Animals 2022, 12(1), 61; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12010061 - 28 Dec 2021
Viewed by 331
Abstract
Multiple studies have quantified the production differences of Hereford Angus crossbreds compared to purebred Angus for a range of traits including growth, carcass, and reproductive traits. This study aims to quantify breed and heterosis effects on maternal performance using genomics. Thirty Hereford and [...] Read more.
Multiple studies have quantified the production differences of Hereford Angus crossbreds compared to purebred Angus for a range of traits including growth, carcass, and reproductive traits. This study aims to quantify breed and heterosis effects on maternal performance using genomics. Thirty Hereford and thirty Angus sires were mated to 1100 Angus heifers and cows in a large commercial herd run on pasture at Musselroe Bay, Tasmania, Australia. Approximately 1650 calves were born. Heifers were weaned, scanned for attainment of puberty prior to joining at approximately 15 months of age, joined, and then recorded for status of pregnancy, calving, lactating, 2nd pregnancy, and weaning of second calf. Heterozygosity effects were significant for heifer pre-joining weight and height as well as proportion pubertal. Breed differences were significant for the same traits plus pregnancy rate at second joining and proportion rearing two calves. Genetic parameters were reported for 13 traits. On average, higher genetic merit (Estimated Breeding Value, EBV percentile) Hereford bulls were used than Angus for growth and puberty, but they were similar for fat and reproduction. Days to calving BREEDPLAN EBVs of the sires were related to puberty and reproduction. Scrotal size BREEDPLAN EBVs of the sires were related to attainment of puberty genomic EBVs calculated. In summary, breed differences in growth and puberty were due to heterosis, but there was an advantage of Hereford genes for reproductive performance. Ongoing emphasis on selection for reduced days to calving and estimation of multi-breed EBVs is important. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Beef Cattle: Advances for Sustainable Intensification)
Article
Impact of Feeding Syngenta Enogen® Feed Corn Compared to Control Corn in Different Diet Scenarios to Finishing Beef Cattle
Animals 2021, 11(10), 2940; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11102940 - 11 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 739
Abstract
The objective of this pooled statistical analysis was to evaluate Syngenta Enogen® Feed Corn (EFC) versus conventional corn (CON) when fed as either dry-rolled corn (DRC) or high-moisture corn (HMC) for effects on finishing beef cattle performance and carcass characteristics. Corns were [...] Read more.
The objective of this pooled statistical analysis was to evaluate Syngenta Enogen® Feed Corn (EFC) versus conventional corn (CON) when fed as either dry-rolled corn (DRC) or high-moisture corn (HMC) for effects on finishing beef cattle performance and carcass characteristics. Corns were evaluated in diets with byproduct inclusion rates of 0, 15, 18, 20, and 30% distiller grains or 25 and 35% Sweet Bran® (a commercial corn gluten feed product). Seven trials (n = 1856) consisting of 200 pen means comparing 26 diet treatments were analyzed using regression in a pooled analysis. When EFC was processed as DRC, the gain efficiency (G:F) improved compared with CON, but the response to feeding EFC decreased from a 4.8% improvement to no improvement compared to CON as distiller grains increased from 0 to 30%, but was significantly improved due to feeding EFC in diets with 0 to 18% distiller grains. Feeding cattle EFC as DRC increased the average daily gain (ADG) and G:F by 4.5% compared with CON corn in diets containing Sweet Bran®. No improvements in animal performance were observed when cattle were fed EFC compared to CON when processed as HMC in any situation. Feeding Enogen® corn improved the gain efficiency of finishing cattle compared with conventional corn when processed as dry-rolled corn and fed in diets with less than 20% distillers or diets that include Sweet Bran®. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Beef Cattle: Advances for Sustainable Intensification)
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Article
Analysis of Life Cycle Environmental Impacts of Using Enogen Corn in Beef Cattle Rations
Animals 2021, 11(10), 2916; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11102916 - 09 Oct 2021
Viewed by 771
Abstract
Agricultural production systems have been identified as significant sources of anthropogenic impacts across several environmental key performance indicators (KPIs). Livestock husbandry is growing in global importance as the demand for high-quality protein continues to increase. It is therefore imperative to have sustainable intensification [...] Read more.
Agricultural production systems have been identified as significant sources of anthropogenic impacts across several environmental key performance indicators (KPIs). Livestock husbandry is growing in global importance as the demand for high-quality protein continues to increase. It is therefore imperative to have sustainable intensification technologies, and we describe one such technology. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the performance of Enogen® corn grain compared to conventional feed corn when used as an ingredient in backgrounding and feed yard beef rations using life cycle assessment. The project was conducted in compliance with ISO standards, including a third-party panel review. A series of scenarios were analyzed to evaluate the impacts of boundaries and functional units on the outcomes. The use of Enogen corn as a feed component in beef production showed a quantifiable benefit in terms of the sustainability metrics of primary interest in this study. The gate-to-gate improvements at the feed yard and backgrounding based on full field trial datasets from field trials conducted at Kansas State University and at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln showed 3.4 and 5.8 percent reductions in Global Warming Potential, respectively. It is particularly noteworthy that the improvement in feed conversion ratio at the feed yard results in approximately 6 percent improvement in the four key environmental performance metrics of beef production, which demonstrates potential for the sector to meet its sustainability targets. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Beef Cattle: Advances for Sustainable Intensification)
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Article
Effect of Hemi-Castration on the Productivity, Histological Characteristics, and Economic Efficacy of Korean Beef Cattle
Animals 2021, 11(9), 2490; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11092490 - 25 Aug 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 895
Abstract
We evaluated the growth performance, serum testosterone, carcass traits, histological characteristics, and economic efficacy of castrated and hemi-castrated Korean beef cattle. Thirty-two Hanwoo calves (Initial body weight: 148.4 ± 19.8 kg) were randomly assigned into the castrated Hanwoo (CH) and hemi-castrated Hanwoo (HH) [...] Read more.
We evaluated the growth performance, serum testosterone, carcass traits, histological characteristics, and economic efficacy of castrated and hemi-castrated Korean beef cattle. Thirty-two Hanwoo calves (Initial body weight: 148.4 ± 19.8 kg) were randomly assigned into the castrated Hanwoo (CH) and hemi-castrated Hanwoo (HH) group. The experiment lasted 18 months; the animals were all slaughtered on the same day. Final body weight and average daily gain (ADG) tended to increase in the HH group compared to the CH group. Testosterone concentration was higher in HH group (5.27–14.27 ng/dL) than in the CH group (0.47–0.70 ng/dL) during the whole experimental period after castration (p < 0.05). Rib eye area was 17.08 cm2 wider in HH group than in CH group, but marbling score was improved by 3.33 in CH group compared to HH group (p < 0.01). Deposition area of adipocytes in Longissimus dorsi were higher in CH group than in HH group (p < 0.001). Net income per head was 1760 US dollar higher in the CH group than in the HH group (p < 0.04). Thus, our findings suggest that hemi-castration had positive effects on the increase in ADG and meat yield traits, with negative effects on marbling and profitability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Beef Cattle: Advances for Sustainable Intensification)
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Article
Genome-Wide Association Study Provides Insights into Important Genes for Reproductive Traits in Nelore Cattle
Animals 2021, 11(5), 1386; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11051386 - 13 May 2021
Viewed by 876
Abstract
The identification of genomic regions associated with reproductive traits as well as their biological processes allows a better understanding of the phenotypic variability of these traits. This information could be applied to animal breeding programs to accelerate genetic gain. The aim of this [...] Read more.
The identification of genomic regions associated with reproductive traits as well as their biological processes allows a better understanding of the phenotypic variability of these traits. This information could be applied to animal breeding programs to accelerate genetic gain. The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) with a scrotal circumference at 365 days of age (SC365) and at 450 days of age (SC450), gestation length (GL) as a calf trait, age at first calving (AFC), accumulated productivity (ACP), heifer early calving until 30 months (HC30), and stayability (STAY) traits, in order to identify candidate genes and biological pathways associated with reproductive traits in Nelore cattle. The data set consisted of pedigree, phenotypes, and genotypes of Nelore cattle from the “Associação Nacional de Criadores e Pesquisadores” (ANCP). The association analyses were performed using the Weighted Single-Step Genome-Wide Association method; the regions, consisting of 10 consecutive SNP, which explained more than 0.5% of additive genetic variance, were considered as a significant association. A total of 3, 6, 7, 5, 10, 25, and 12 windows were associated with SC355, SC450, GL, AFC, ACP, HC30, and STAY, respectively. The results revealed genes with important functions for reproductive traits, such as fertility and precocity. Some genes were associated with more than one trait, among them CAMK1D, TASP1, ACOXL, RAB11FIP5, and SFXN5. Moreover, the genes were enriched in functional terms, like negative regulation of fat cell differentiation, fatty acid alpha-oxidation, and sphingolipids signaling pathway. The identification of the genes associated with the traits, as well as genes enriched in the terms and pathway mentioned above, should contribute to future biological validation studies and may be used as candidate genes in Nelore breeding programs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Beef Cattle: Advances for Sustainable Intensification)
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Article
Effect of Complete Replacement of Dry-Rolled Corn with Unprocessed Rye on Growth Performance, Efficiency of Dietary Net Energy Use, and Carcass Traits of Finishing Heifers
Animals 2021, 11(1), 99; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11010099 - 06 Jan 2021
Viewed by 1005
Abstract
Continental crossbred beef heifers were used in a randomized complete block design experiment to evaluate the effects of replacement of dry-rolled corn with unprocessed rye on the finishing-phase growth performance and efficiency of dietary net energy (NE) use. Fifty-six heifers (433 ± 34.0 [...] Read more.
Continental crossbred beef heifers were used in a randomized complete block design experiment to evaluate the effects of replacement of dry-rolled corn with unprocessed rye on the finishing-phase growth performance and efficiency of dietary net energy (NE) use. Fifty-six heifers (433 ± 34.0 kg) were transported 241 km from a sale barn in North Central South Dakota to the Ruminant Nutrition Center in Brookings, SD. Heifers were blocked by weight grouping and allotted to treatment pens (n = 7 heifers/pen and 4 pens/treatment). Treatments included a finishing diet that contained 60% grain (diet dry matter basis) as dry-rolled corn (DRC) or unprocessed rye grain (RYE). On study day 14, all heifers were consuming the final diet and were implanted with 200 mg of trenbolone acetate and 28 mg of estradiol benzoate (Synovex-Plus, Zoetis, Parsippany, NJ, USA). The RYE heifers had decreased (p ≤ 0.01) final body weight, average daily gain, and gain efficiency; however, they tended (p = 0.08) to have a greater dry matter intake compared to DRC heifers. RYE heifers had decreased (p ≤ 0.01) observed dietary NE and decreased (p ≤ 0.01) observed-to-expected dietary NE ratio for maintenance and gain compared to DRC heifers. The dressing percentage, 12th rib fat thickness, ribeye area, and the distribution of yield and quality grades were not altered (p ≥ 0.12) by dietary treatment. The hot carcass weight, calculated yield grade, estimated empty body fat (EBF), and body weight at 28% EBF decreased (p ≤ 0.02) and retail yield increased (p = 0.01) in RYE compared to DRC heifers. These data indicate that unprocessed rye is a palatable feed ingredient for inclusion in finishing diets for beef cattle and that rye inclusion only minimally influences the carcass quality grade. The feeding value of unprocessed rye is considerably less (21.4%) than that of dry-rolled corn using current standards and approximately 91% of the NE value of processed rye (processing index = 78.8%). Rye grain fed as processed or unprocessed grain has an NE value that is less than 90% of that of dry-rolled corn. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Beef Cattle: Advances for Sustainable Intensification)

Review

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Review
Sustainable Intensification of Beef Production in the Tropics: The Role of Genetically Improving Sexual Precocity of Heifers
Animals 2022, 12(2), 174; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12020174 - 12 Jan 2022
Viewed by 515
Abstract
Increasing productivity through continued animal genetic improvement is a crucial part of implementing sustainable livestock intensification programs. In Zebu cattle, the lack of sexual precocity is one of the main obstacles to improving beef production efficiency. Puberty-related traits are complex, but large-scale data [...] Read more.
Increasing productivity through continued animal genetic improvement is a crucial part of implementing sustainable livestock intensification programs. In Zebu cattle, the lack of sexual precocity is one of the main obstacles to improving beef production efficiency. Puberty-related traits are complex, but large-scale data sets from different “omics” have provided information on specific genes and biological processes with major effects on the expression of such traits, which can greatly increase animal genetic evaluation. In addition, genetic parameter estimates and genomic predictions involving sexual precocity indicator traits and productive, reproductive, and feed-efficiency related traits highlighted the feasibility and importance of direct selection for anticipating heifer reproductive life. Indeed, the case study of selection for sexual precocity in Nellore breeding programs presented here show that, in 12 years of selection for female early precocity and improved management practices, the phenotypic means of age at first calving showed a strong decreasing trend, changing from nearly 34 to less than 28 months, with a genetic trend of almost −2 days/year. In this period, the percentage of early pregnancy in the herds changed from around 10% to more than 60%, showing that the genetic improvement of heifer’s sexual precocity allows optimizing the productive cycle by reducing the number of unproductive animals in the herd. It has a direct impact on sustainability by better use of resources. Genomic selection breeding programs accounting for genotype by environment interaction represent promising tools for accelerating genetic progress for sexual precocity in tropical beef cattle. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Beef Cattle: Advances for Sustainable Intensification)
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Other

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Commentary
Choosing Sustainability: Decision Making and Sustainable Practice Adoption with Examples from U.S. Great Plains Cattle Grazing Systems
Animals 2022, 12(3), 286; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12030286 - 24 Jan 2022
Viewed by 686
Abstract
Sustainable intensification of animal agriculture will rely on the acceptance and adoption of many new practices and technologies. We discuss the literature related to behavior change and sustainable practice adoption in the context of beef cattle production, focusing on sustainable rotational grazing and [...] Read more.
Sustainable intensification of animal agriculture will rely on the acceptance and adoption of many new practices and technologies. We discuss the literature related to behavior change and sustainable practice adoption in the context of beef cattle production, focusing on sustainable rotational grazing and the use of cover crops. Research from a variety of contexts is discussed with a conceptual framework that combines diffusion of innovation theory with the reasoned action approach. Background characteristics of producers and their operations as well the characteristics of any new practice/technology will influence producer perceptions of them. These background and perceived practice characteristics will influence producer behavioral, normative, and control beliefs regarding the behavior, which will in turn inform attitudes about the behavior and perceptions regarding behavioral norms and the capacity to adopt new behaviors. Factors such as the demographics of beef cattle producers, land tenure, and labor and credit availability, as well as producers’ concepts of what it means to be a “good farmer”, should inform the conceptualization and development of new practices and technologies to increase the likelihood of their adoption. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Beef Cattle: Advances for Sustainable Intensification)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Evaluating the importance of factors impacting beef sustainability using a sensitivity analysis
Authors: Phillip Lancaster; Robert Larson
Affiliation: Kansas State University, USA

Title: Mineral nutrition and beef cattle health
Authors: Roberto A. Palomares
Affiliation: College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA

Title: The role of genetic improvement of sexual precocity of heifers for sustainable intensification of beef production in the tropics
Authors: Lucia Galvão de Albuquerque
Affiliation: Universidade Estadual Paulista, Brasil

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