Main research question/goal
What is the best alternative for young growing double-muscled replacement heifers? What kind of supplement is most appropriate for high animal performance in grazing animals, and what supplement is most cost effective? Double-muscled replacement heifers can be reared to have their first calving at an age of 24 months, but this requires intensive management. Heifers are mostly turned out to pasture. Previous research showed that protein can be limiting when double-muscled animals are only fed an energy supplement, because it substitutes part of the grass with a relatively high protein concentration. The aim of this research was to evaluate the effect of composition and level of the supplement provided.Research approach
Double-muscled replacement heifers are divided into comparable groups based on body weight and age. They are turned out to pasture at an age of 5 to 10 months. Supplements are fed providing energy or energy and protein from combinations of different feeds. Previous experiments revealed good performance when a mixture of 80% beet pulp and 20% soybean meal was fed. Alternatives (protected soybean meal, DDGS, etc.) are desirable in terms of sustainability. We also investigate the effect of the supplement on some blood metabolites. We investigate whether indoor feeding during the first year of life can be a better alternative. Relevance/Valorisation
Previous experiments indicated that double-muscled replacement heifers can be reared to have their first calving at an age of 24 months, but this requires intensive management. An earlier parturition means a lower labour demand, less circulating capital, and less feed. This reduced feed intake will also contribute to a reduction of the greenhouse gas emission. The research results are published as a scientific paper and presented at international conferences. These results are also communicated via informational workshops and used for extension services.
Ugent - Fac. Diergeneeskunde