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Forage and breed effects on behavior and temperament of pregnant beef heifers
- Mays, Angela R., Looper, Michael L., Williamson, Benjamin C., Coffey, Kenneth P., Coblentz, Wayne K., Aiken, Glen E., Rosenkrans, Charles F.
- Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology 2013 v.4 no.1 pp. 1
- Angus, Brahman, Festuca arundinacea, Gelbvieh, animal behavior, animal well-being, artificial selection, beef cattle, body weight changes, breed differences, cattle production, cultivars, endophytes, forage, fungal diseases of plants, grazing, heifers, observational studies, pastures, plant pathogenic fungi, pregnancy, production technology, prolactin, temperament, weight gain
- Integration of behavioral observations with traditional selection schemes may lead to enhanced animal well-being and more profitable forage-based cattle production systems. Brahman-influenced (BR; n=64) and Gelbvieh x Angus (GA; n=64) heifers consumed either toxic endophyte-infected tall fescue (E+) or one of two nontoxic endophyte-infected tall fescue (NT) cultivars during two years. Heifers were weighed at midpoint and termination of grazing. Grazing behavior (grazing, resting in the shade, lying, or standing without grazing) was recorded (n=13 visual observations per year in June and July) for each pasture. During year 2, exit velocity and serum prolactin were determined. Grazing behavior was influenced (P < 0.05) by an interaction between fescue cultivar and breed type. Gelbvieh x Angus heifers assigned to E+ pastures had the lowest percentage of animals grazing and the largest percentage of animals resting in the shade. Brahman-influenced heifers had faster exit velocities (P < 0.001) than GA heifers (0.52 vs. 0.74 ? 0.04 seconds/meter, respectively). Bodyweight was affected (P < 0.01) by an interaction of tall fescue cultivar and day, and an interaction of tall fescue cultivar and breed type. Heifers grazing NT pastures were heavier (P < 0.01) than heifers grazing E+ pastures at midpoint and termination. Gelbvieh x Angus heifers grazing NT pastures were heavier (P < 0.01) than GA and BR heifers grazing E+ and BR heifers grazing NT pastures. An interaction of forage cultivar and breed type occurred for serum prolactin (P < 0.01). Collectively fescue cultivar, exit velocity, and concentrations of serum prolactin were associated with grazing behavior. Heifers grazing NT pastures were observed to be grazing more than heifers assigned to E+ pastures, regardless of breed type, which may have contributed to changes in bodyweight and average daily gain in heifers. Integration of behavioral observations along with traditional selection schemes may lead to enhanced animal well-being and more profitable forage-based cattle production systems.