Production and profitability of a beef herd on transitional Cymbopogon-Themeda veld receiving three levels of lick supplementation
The purpose of the study was to investigate the effects of three levels of lick supplementation on the production and reproduction of cows grazing transitional Cymbopogon-Themeda veld. The study was conducted over three years (2011–2014). A total of 150 Drakensberger cows were randomly allocated to three supplementary treatment groups. These supplementation formulations are available commercially and are typical of levels used under farming conditions. In summer Treatment 1 (T1) consisted of a supplement containing 50 g phosphate (P)/kg and 150 g crude protein (CP)/kg. T2 and T3 both consisted of supplements containing 60 g P/kg and 0 g CP/kg. In winter, T1 consisted of a supplement containing 367 g CP/kg, 77.5% non-protein nitrogen (NPN) and metabolizable energy (ME) content of 5.25 MJ/kg. T2 had 466 g CP/kg, 88.7% NPN and a ME content of 4.4 MJ/kg. T3 had 475 g CP/kg, 95.9% NPN and an ME content of 2.4 MJ/kg. Traits were calf birth weight, 100-day and weaning weights of calves, cow weight at weaning, inter-calving period (ICP), conception rate and body condition score (BCS) of cows. Calf birth weight was affected by supplementation treatment only in year 3 and 100-day weight in year 2. However, weaning weight and reproductive performance were not influenced by treatment. It was concluded that the level of supplementation of each treatment group enabled the cows to operate within their target weight range; however, it was more profitable to use the T3 supplementation option.
Keywords: Cymbopogon-Themeda veld, cows, performance