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Relationship between body condition score at calving and reproductive performance in young postpartum cows grazing native range

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Body condition score is used as a management tool to predict competency of reproduction in beef cows. Therefore, a retrospective study was performed to evaluate association of BCS at calving with subsequent pregnancy rate, days to first postpartum ovulation, nutrient status (assessed by blood metabolites), and calf BW change in 2- and 3-yr-old cows (n = 351) managed and selected to fit their environment of grazing native range over 6 yr at the Corona Range and Livestock Research Center, Corona, NM. Cows were managed similarly before calving, without manipulation of management, to achieve predetermined BCS at parturition. Palpable BCS (scale of 1 to 9) were determined by 2 experienced technicians before calving. Cows were classified to 1 of 3 BCS groups prior calving: BCS 4 (mean BCS = 4.3 ± 0.02), 5 (mean BCS = 5.0 ± 0.03), or 6 (mean BCS = 5.8 ± 0.06). Cows were weighed weekly after calving and serum was collected once weekly (1 yr) or twice weekly (5 yr) for progesterone analysis to estimate first postpartum ovulation beginning 35 d postpartum. Year effects also were evaluated, with years identified as either above or below average precipitation. Days to first postpartum ovulation did not differ among calving BCS groups (P = 0.93). Pregnancy rates were not influenced by calving BCS (P = 0.83; 92%, 91%, 90% for BCS 4, 5, and 6, respectively). Days to BW nadir was not influenced by BCS at calving (P = 0.95). Cow BW was different at all measuring points (P < 0.01) with BCS 6 cows having the heaviest BW and cows with BCS 4 the lightest. Cows with calving BCS 4 and 5 lost more (P = 0.06) BW from the initiation of the study to the end of breeding than cows with BCS 6. However, cow BW change at all other measurement periods was not different (P ≥ 0.49) among calving BCS groups. Serum glucose and NEFA concentrations were not influenced by calving BCS (P ≥ 0.51). Calf BW at birth (P = 0.60), branding (55-d BW; P = 0.76), and weaning (205-d BW; P = 0.60) were not impacted by cow calving BCS. Body condition score did not influence overall pregnancy rates, indicating that young cows can have a reduced BCS and still be reproductively punctual. Therefore, these results indicate that reproductive performance of young cows with reduced BCS may not be affected when managed in extensive range conditions.
J. T. Mulliniks , S. H. Cox , M. E. Kemp , R. L. Endecott , R. C. Waterman , D. M. VanLeeuwen , M. K. Petersen
USDA Scientist Submission
Journal of animal science 2012 8 v.90 no.8
American Society of Animal Science
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed