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gestation, dried distillers grains, solubiles, heifers, last trimester, reproduction


Ninety-six crossbred heifers were used in an experiment to evaluate the effect of dried distillers grains plus solubles (DDGS), fed in the last trimester of gestation, on heifer performance and reproduction. Animals were blocked by previous heifer development strategy (Antelope Research Station range developed = ANT 1; Antelope Research Station dry lot developed = ANT 2; Cottonwood research station = CTW), stratified by expected calving date, body weight and body condition score, and randomly allotted to one of twelve pens. Each pen was randomly assigned to one of two treatments (6 pens/treatment; 4 pens per block). Treatments were 1) dried distillers grains and grass hay (DDGS) or 2) soybean hulls and grass hay (SBH). Treatments were applied during the last-trimester of gestation. Diets were developed utilizing the 1996 NRC computer model and designed to meet nutrient requirements at 240 days of gestation under thermo-neutral conditions. Treatment diets offered similar amounts of NEm each day based on assumptions of the energy content of SBH and DDGS (assumed SBH = 80% TDN and DDGS = 88% TDN). Heifers fed the DDGS had a greater (P<0.01) increase in body weight and a heavier (P=0.03) final weight compared to the heifers fed SBH. Body condition score was not affected by diet. Calf birth weights were similar for both the DDGS and SBH treatments with a mean birth weight of 87.0 lbs ± 5.3lb and 85.0 lbs ± 3.4lbs respectively. Treatment had no effect on calving ease or calf vigor scores. These results suggest that in limit fed situations DDGS and SBH can both be supplemented at 40 percent of the diet with no negative affects on cow performance, calf birth weight, or calving difficulty.

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South Dakota State University


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