Effects of cows grazing toxic endophyte-infected tall fescue or novel endophyte-infected tall fescue in late gestation on cow performance, reproduction, and progeny growth performance and carcass characteristics
Shoup, L.M.; Miller, L.M.; Srinivasan, M.; Ireland, F.A.; Shike, D.W.
Journal of Animal Science 94(12): 5105-5113
Very little is known regarding the effects of cow exposure to toxic ergot alkaloids in late gestation and the subsequent, long-term effects on progeny. Therefore, the objectives were to determine the effects of grazing toxic endophyte-infected tall fescue () or novel endophyte-infected tall fescue during late gestation on cow BW, BCS, hair coat score (HCS), respiration rates, milk production, and reproduction and on growth performance and carcass characteristics of progeny. Eighty gestating, Angus × Simmental cows (age = 6.68 ± 0.32 yr; 588 ± 16 kg initial BW; initial BCS = 5.66 ± 0.28) were stratified by initial BW and allocated into 8 pasture groups (10 cows/group) with 4 groups per treatment. Each group was allotted to 1 of 2 grazing treatments: toxic endophyte-infected tall fescue ('Kentucky-31'; E+) or novel endophyte-infected tall fescue ('Jesup MaxQ'; NOV). Cows were placed on grazing treatments at 110 ± 6 d prepartum (May 28, 2014) and remained on treatment until the end of the calving period (October 8, 2014; 23 ± 6 d postpartum). Cow BW and BCS did not diverge ( ≥ 0.15) at any time point among grazing treatments. However, cows grazing E+ had increased ( < 0.05) respiration rates and HCS and reduced ( < 0.05) prolactin concentration compared with cows grazing NOV. Calf birth BW, Julian calving date, milk production, AI conception rate, and overall pregnancy rate did not differ ( ≥ 0.23) by grazing treatment. In a subsequent grazing period of the progeny, dam grazing treatment did not affect ( ≥ 0.14) respiration rates, HCS, or prolactin concentration of the progeny when all progeny grazed E+ pastures. However, progeny born to dams grazing NOV tended ( > 0.06 to ≤0.10) to have increased BW at 70 ± 6 d of age, 205 d (adjusted weaning BW), and throughout the postweaning calf grazing period. Despite a tendency for BW to differ throughout the postweaning calf grazing period, finishing phase performance and carcass characteristics of progeny did not differ ( ≥ 0.20) between dam grazing treatment. In conclusion, results indicate that by the time progeny enter the feedlot and are finished on a high-grain diet, any fetal programming effects are minimal.