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Defining the primary business measure of liveweight production for beef cows in northern Australia

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Fordyce, G., Barnes, T. S., McGowan, M. R., Perkins, N. R., Smith, D. R. and McCosker, K. D. (2023) Defining the primary business measure of liveweight production for beef cows in northern Australia. Animal Production Science, 63 (4). pp. 395-409.


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1071/AN20096

Publisher URL: https://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/AN20096


Context: Annual liveweight production of a cow is the sum of the weight of its calf at weaning and its own annual liveweight change. Along with value per kg, annual liveweight production constitutes the business income contributed by the animal; however, it is not well described for north Australian beef herds.Aims: This study aimed to quantify cow liveweight production and to measure impacts of reproduction and other risk factors.Methods: Liveweight production data from 2122 Brahman and tropically adapted composite cows aged 2.5–8.5 years and grazing the four primary country types in northern Australia were analysed as a function of current and previous mating outcomes, mating age, breed, hip height, and body condition or liveweight.Key results: Cow liveweight production was highly variable (coefficient of variation 40%) among and within years. Liveweight production of cows averaged 154 kg/year from their first mating, 168 kg/year from their second, and 190 kg/year from subsequent matings; however, production efficiency remained constant, with a liveweight production ratio of 0.31–0.32 kg produced annually per kg of grazing animal. Within environment, average weaner production (kg/cow) approximated the estimated average annual weight gain of yearling cattle. Weight of calves weaned contributed ~87% of annual liveweight production. Liveweight production averaged 103–143 kg higher for cows that weaned a calf than those that lost a calf, with the effect greater in older cows (P < 0.001). Liveweight production averaged 39–43 kg higher for non-pregnant cows than those that lost a calf (P < 0.001). These effects were attenuated by ~20% over a lifetime. Cows weaning a calf from a previous mating had liveweight production 57–85 kg higher (P < 0.001) than those not weaning a calf, having begun the year in poorer condition because of lactation. Calf weaning weight was 25 kg higher in mature cows than in first- and second-lactation cows. Liveweight production advantages of tropical composites over Brahmans appeared primarily associated with consistently higher calf weaning weights, and higher cow growth during their first reproductive year.Conclusions: This research successfully demonstrated the concept of liveweight production in breeding beef cows, showing it to be primarily governed by available nutrition and mating outcome.Implications: These findings provide a previously unavailable reference point for beef-systems management in northern Australia; for example, liveweight production could be used to determine the potential achievable increases in cow performance for a specific nutritional environment.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Animal Science
Keywords:body condition score, Brahman cross, calf loss, non-pregnancy, production, reproduction, tropical cattle, tropical pasture.
Subjects:Animal culture > Breeding and breeds
Animal culture > Cost, yield and profit. Accounting
Animal culture > Cattle
Animal culture > Rangelands. Range management. Grazing
Animal culture > Feeds and feeding. Animal nutrition
Animal culture > Cattle > Meat production
Live Archive:06 May 2021 04:44
Last Modified:22 Jun 2023 06:19

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