The University of Arizona

Evaluating breeding seasons for cows grazing winter range and bahiagrass.

F. Pate, R. Kalmbacher, F. Martin


Florida native range is grazed in winter and cows are moved to bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum Flugge) pasture in March for breeding and calf rearing. Winter weight loss of cows is a major problem, and one possibility to reduce it is to alter the breeding season. This 4-year study evaluated October-February range grazing with movement of cows to bahiagrass in late February for breeding and calf rearing beginning in March (spring-bred cows) vs. December-April range grazing with movement of cows to bahiagrass in May (summer-bred cows). Spring-bred cows weighed less coming off range (439 kg) than summer-bred cows (459 kg), but spring-bred cows gained more weight on bahiagrass (38 kg) by the time calves were weaned than summer-bred cows (1 kg). At weaning, there were no differences in weights of cows. Weight loss of cows on range was related to weight going onto range in the fall (r = -0.62 and -0.49 for spring- and summer-bred cows). Declining nutritive value of bahiagrass and heavy rains in the late summer and early fall appeared to lead to the inability of summer-bred cows to regain weight on bahiagrass. In 2 years, rain interfered with range burning in October which was needed to improve the palatability and nutritive value of forages for spring-bred cows, but this appeared to have no effect on cow performance. Weaning weight of calves from the spring-bred cows (205 kg) tended to be higher than that of calves from summer-bred cows (181 kg). There were no differences in pregnancy rates (74.5%). A March-May breeding season is recommended over a May-July breeding season for cows using a combination of range and bahiagrass.



weaning;pregnancy rate;breeding season;weaning weight;sown grasslands;weight losses;Paspalum notatum;liveweight gain;calves;body weight;rain;Florida;pastures;spring;beef cows;summer;grazing

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