Effects of post-weaning growth rate and puberty induction protocol on reproductive performance of Bos indicus-influenced beef heifers


A 3-yr study evaluated the effectiveness of puberty induction using exogenous reproductive hormones in beef heifers undergoing different post-weaning growth rates. On d 0 of each year, grazing Angus × Brahman heifers (60 heifers/yr) were stratified by initial BW and age (BW = 253 ± 30 kg; age = 310 ± 18 d), and randomly assigned, in a 3 × 2 factorial design, to achieve a low (LOW; 0.45 kg/d), medium (MED; 0.73 kg/d), or high (HIGH; 1.00 kg/d) growth rate from d 0 to 168 (5 heifers/pasture; 4 pastures/growth rate/yr). Dietary supplements were offered 3 times weekly (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays) at 0800 h to provide 1.8, 2.9, and 4.4 kg of supplement DM per heifer daily from d 0 to 168. On d 0 of each year, 2 pastures/growth rate treatment were randomly assigned to receive (SYNC) or not (NOSYNC) a puberty induction protocol, which consisted of intravaginal controlled internal drug release (CIDR) insertion on d 65, CIDR removal on d 72, followed by 100-µg i.m. injection of GnRH on d 74, and 25-mg i.m. injection of PGF2α on d 84. Immediately after the puberty induction protocol, all heifers were grouped by growth rate treatment (1 group/growth rate/yr) into a single pasture and exposed to yearling Angus × Brahman bulls from d 84 to 168 (1 bull/group/yr). Interactions among growth rate and puberty induction protocol were not detected for any variable (P ≥ 0.26). Overall heifer ADG achieved only 51 to 56% of targeted ADG, and percentage of mature BW on d 84 did not differ between MED and HIGH heifers (P = 0.30), but both were heavier than LOW heifers (P < 0.01). Percentage of pubertal heifers on d 84 was greater for MED and HIGH vs. LOW heifers (P ≤ 0.05), whereas puberty induction protocol increased puberty attainment on d 84 (P < 0.01). Overall pregnancy and calving percentages after first breeding season were not affected by growth rate or puberty induction protocol (P ≥ 0.25). However, heifers calved 11 d earlier when enrolled in the puberty induction protocol (P = 0.02). In summary, puberty induction and HIGH and MED growth rates resulted in earlier attainment of puberty and pregnancy in Bos indicus-influenced beef heifers. However, neither growth rate or puberty induction impacted overall heifer pregnancy and calving rates on their first breeding season.


Animal Science

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Journal of animal science