Effect of different levels of supplementation after weaning on beef heifer development
The purpose of the study was to identify a cost-effective supplementation regimen to rear replacement heifers on transitional Cymbopogon-Themeda veld. A total of 120 Drakensberger heifers aged 6 - 7 months were randomly allocated to three supplementary treatment groups from 2011 - 2014. A three-phase supplementation programme was used while the production year was divided into three periods, namely summer (wet season) (approximately mid-December to March), winter (early dry season) (April to July), and late winter (late dry season) (August to approximately mid-December). The late winter treatments consisted of three levels of supplemental crude protein (CP), a percentage of protein derived from non-protein nitrogen (NPN) and metabolizable energy (ME), namely T1: 306 g CP/kg (47.4% NPN) + ME 7.4 MJ/kg; T2: 329 g CP/kg (70.72% NPN) + ME 6.89 MJ/kg; and T3: 475 g CP/kg (95.86% NPN) + ME 2.4 MJ/kg. In summer, T1 was supplemented with 164 g CP/kg (7% NPN) + ME 9 MJ/kg + 13 g P/kg; T2 with Voermol Superfos with 150 g CP/kg (13.6% NPN), ME 0 MJ/kg, and 50 g P/kg; T3: 0 g CP/kg, ME 0 MJ/kg, and 60 g P/kg. The traits were nutrient intake, supplement cost, mean bodyweight, weight gains/losses and mean BCS. The study concluded that feeding replacement heifers to traditional bodyweight increased development costs without improving production sufficiently. Veld that is in good condition together with a mineral (60 g P/kg) supplement in the wet season and a protein and mineral supplement (96% NPN) in the dry season gives the highest economic return.
Keywords: beef heifers, post wean, supplementation