Wow, time flies! March 21st was the official first day of spring, or was it? I live in Nebraska and my least favorite season of the year is spring; not because of all the new beginnings or starts, but because of Mother Nature’s Biopolar personality this time of year. I read a Facebook post this morning from a Sandhills Ranch woman whose family I worked for in my youth. She commented on how the temperature the morning of March 21st was in the single digits, highs in two days would be in the mid 70’s and then a snowstorm was predicted the following day. This is what I don’t like about spring; you never know what you’re going to get.
Nutritional programs when it comes to breeding can be like spring, a little unpredictable. There’s been some recent attention on post-breeding nutrition, especially with heifers in regard to energy intake, grazing behavior and the effect of which on reproduction Nearly 10 months ago, I wrote a blog on this very topic and the theme was centered on the fact that in many areas, breeding occurs just before or at green grass turnout, and the risk associated with lush green grass not providing adequate energy for cattle at the onset of grazing.
Keep them gaining weight
Past Research conducted at the University of Wyoming and South Dakota State University has shown dietary energy intake influencing AI and overall season breeding percentage. Whether heifers were fed to gain weight modestly vs only to maintain weight, pregnancy rates were 73% vs 62% for AI breeding and 94 vs 88% for the overall season ( Arias et al., 2012:2013). Additional studies both at South Dakota and Minnesota looked at embryo quality post insemination with heifers on a gain vs maintain diet and found embryo quality to be better with heifers fed to gain (Kruse et.al 2013).
Research done in South Dakota found that heifers with prior grazing experience had improved AI bred conception rates on early spring and summer pastures vs heifers with no prior grazing experience (Perry et al., 2009; 2013). It was summarized that heifers naïve to grazing were only consuming approx. 40% of their energy requirement based on weight loss seen in the first 27 days post breeding.
Embryonic Survival – Key to reproductive success
In cattle, the attachment of the embryo to the uterine wall (endometrium) does not occur quickly after fertilization as it stays in the uterine lumen without attaching for a period of time. At this point, this embryo (conceptus) is highly dependent on uterine secretions of carbohydrate, amino acids, hormones, enzymes and other compounds for continued development and eventual attachment .An abrupt change in diet that leads to insufficient nutrients can interfere with the above mechanism resulting in an increased risk of embryonic mortality.
Prevention of the above problem is fairly simple. Management and nutrition are the keys. In many cases, supplemental feeding on pasture may be necessary. Other practices would include not turning cattle out to green grass for a couple weeks following breeding. In many areas, cattle are being bred on grass and this problem may not be exacerbated to the same extent; all depending on forage conditions.
The CRYSTALYX® Supplement Strategy – Breed-Up® Omega
One good option to use as a supplement during and post breeding is the CRYSTALYX® Breed-Up® Omega product. Recently this product changed its name from “Omega-Lyx®” We now included this in our Breed-Up® family as it contains Organic trace minerals of copper, zinc, cobalt and manganese. It also has 100% of its Selenium source coming from Sel-Plex®, selenium yeast. In addition, Breed-Up® Omega contains 12% fat, with flaxseed as one source that contains Omega fatty acids.
Feeding Breed-Up® Omega can help give the overall energy status of the diet a boost from more fat, better mineral utilization and diet digestibility. Next week I will discuss a demonstration that was conducted in 2015 using Breed-Up® Omega in an intensive breeding program. I think you’ll like the results you see.
Arias, R.P., P.J. Gunn, R.P. Lemenager, G.A. Bridges, and S.L. Lake. 2012. Effects of post-AI nutrition on reproductive and growth performance of yearling beef heifers. J. Anim. Sci 90 (Suppl. 3):156 (Abstr.).
Arias, R.P., P.J. Gunn, R.P. Lemenager, G.A. Perry, G.A. Bridges, and S.L. Lake. 2013. Effects of post-AI nutrition in fertility of yearling beef heifers. Proceedings of the Western Section of the American Society of Animal Science. Vol. 64:126.
Kruse, S.G., B.J. Funnell, S.L. Bird, H.P. Dias, S.L. Lake, R.P. Arias, G.A. Perry, O.L. Swanson, E.L. Larimore, and G.A. Bridges. 2013. Influence of post-insemination nutrition on embryonic development in beef heifers. J. Animal Sci. 91 (E-Suppl. 2):635.
Perry, G.A., J. Walker, C. Wright, and K. Olson. 2009. Impact of method of heifer development and post-AI management on reproductive efficiency. Proceedings, The Range Beef Cow Symposium XXI, Casper WY.
Perry, G.A., B.L. Perry, J.A. Walker, C.L. Wright, R.R. Salverson, and H.H. Patterson. 2013. Evaluation of prior grazing experience on reproductive performance in beef heifers. Prof. Anim. Sci. 29:595-600.