R. Bras. Zootec.. 01/Nov/2016;45(11):667-76.
Growth and reproductive performance of 14- to 15-month-old Hereford heifers
Aiming at breeding heifers with 14-15 months of age, 100 Hereford calves were subjected to different feeding systems. Heifers grazed on a natural pasture in early winter, fed or not a supplement (14% crude protein; 72% total digestible nutrients), were transferred to a ryegrass pasture for 73 days, and then returned to a natural pasture for 15 days until the beginning of the breeding season. During the last 15 days on ryegrass pasture and the 15 days of the return to the natural pasture, half of the heifers of the two previous systems were offered the supplement, thereby establishing four feeding treatments. Heifers supplemented during the second period, independently of supplementation during the first grazing period, presented higher average daily gain and greater backfat values than the non-supplemented heifers. The breeding season extended for 75 days. At the start of the breeding season (November 18), heifers supplemented during both periods presented higher body condition score and body weight. The highest percentage of puberty was determined in heifers supplemented in the early winter. Heifers supplemented during both periods presented the highest pregnancy rate. Pregnant heifers presented higher average daily gain when fed the supplement during the second period, as well as higher relative pelvic area, body weight, and body condition score at the start and end of the breeding season. To an expressive pregnancy in 14- to 15- month-old heifers, higher weaning weights and pasture allowance are required to get a better answer to supplements offered.