Prepartum dietary energy source fed to beef cows: Ii. effects on progeny postnatal growth, glucose tolerance, and carcass composition

A. E. Radunz, F. L. Fluharty, A. E. Relling, T. L. Felix, L. M. Shoup, H. N. Zerby, S. C. Loerch

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62 Scopus citations


Mature Angus-cross beef cows (n = 228) were used to evaluate effects of prepartum dietary energy source on postnatal growth and carcass composition of progeny in a 2-yr study. Starting at approximately 160 d of gestation, cows were fed diets consisting of 1 of 3 primary energy sources: grass hay (HY), corn (CN), or dried corn distillers grains with solubles (DG). The CN and DG diets were limit-fed to achieve similar energy intakes as cows fed HY. Following parturition, cows were fed a common diet and managed as a single group. Calves were weaned at an average of 185 ± 6 d of age and backgrounded for 28 d. A subset of progeny (n = 134) was individually fed a common finishing diet until slaughter, when each calf reached 1.2 ± 0.05 cm of backfat. A glucose tolerance test (GTT) was conducted in year 2 on 4 calves/treatment after 41 and 111 d on the finishing diet (DOF). Calf birth weights were greater (P = 0.002) in calves from cows fed CN and DG than calves from cows fed HY, and weaning BW (P = 0.08) was less for calves from cows fed HY vs. CN. Receiving BW, final BW, and HCW did not differ (P ≥ 0.16) among treatments. No difference (P ≥ 0.28) in ADG, morbidity, and mortality from birth to slaughter was observed among treatments. In response to a GTT, increased DOF resulted in greater (P ≤ 0.005) fasting insulin, faster glucose disappearance rate, and greater insulin:glucose area under the curve ratio. Glucose disappearance rate was greater (P = 0.01) in calves from cows fed CN than in calves from cows fed HY or DG. A greater initial insulin response (P = 0.005) was observed in calves from cows fed CN or DG than in calves from cows fed HY. Carcass traits used to measure yield grade did not differ (P ≥ 0.19) among treatments. Calves from dams fed CN had the lowest marbling score (P = 0.03) and intramuscular fat content (P = 0.07). These results indicate that prepartum maternal dietary energy source can alter fetal adipose tissue development and insulin sensitivity resulting in long-term effects on progeny's intramuscular fat deposition. Moreover, present findings suggest that increasing the number of days on a corn-based finishing diet increases insulin resistance in beef cattle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4962-4974
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number13
StatePublished - Dec 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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