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Growth and reproductive performance of beef heifers grazing endophyte-free, endophyte-infected and novel endophyte-infected tall fescue


Growth and reproductive performance of beef heifers grazing endophyte-free, endophyte-infected and novel endophyte-infected tall fescue



Livestock Science 125(2-3): 254-260



ISSN/ISBN: 1871-1413

DOI: 10.1016/j.livsci.2009.05.003

A three-year study was conducted to investigate the effects of endophyte-free (E-), endophyte-infected (E+) and novel endophyte-infected (EN) tall fescue on the growth and pregnancy rate of beef heifers during the spring. Each year, 48 beef heifers were strip-grazed on stockpiled fescue from December through February, fed fescue hay during late February to early April and then rotationally grazed on spring growth of fescue until June. At the end of the trial, heifers had been maintained on E+, E- or EN (pasture or hay) for a total of 152,188 and 191 d in years 1, 2, and 3, respectively. In late March, heifers were synchronized using a controlled intravaginal drug-releasing device, (CIDR(R)) for 7 d followed by injection with PGF2 alpha (Lutalyse(R)). Heatmount detectors (Kamar(R)) and observation for behavioral estrus were used to detect estrus for 63 d. Heifers were artificially inseminated 8 to 12 h after the onset of standing estrus. Conception was determined by transrectal ultrasonography at approximately 30, 60 and 90 d after synchronization. Reproductive performance did not differ among treatments (P >= 0.20). Pregnancy rate was 54, 65. and 65% for E+, E- and EN, respectively. However, during the spring, growth and prolactin were decreased (P<0.01) for heifers on E+. Gains on spring pasture were 0.24, 0.75, and 0.71 kg/d (SEM +/- 0.03) for E+, E- and EN, respectively. Based on these results, the wild type endophyte-infected fescue can be used in production systems as a source of winter forage but producers should consider placing heifers on alternative forage (such as the novel endophyte-infected fescue) in the spring.

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Accession: 070617340

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