Influence of cow breed type, age and previous lactation status on cow height, calf growth, and patterns of body weight, condition, and blood metabolites for cows grazing bahiagrass pastures.
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This study was initiated to evaluate performance and patterns of cow traits and blood metabolites of 3 breeds of cows grazing bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum Flgge) pastures in central Florida. Purebred cows (n = 411) of either Angus (Bos taurus), Brahman (Bos indicus), or Romosinuano (Bos taurus) breeding, rotationally grazed (moved twice weekly) bahiagrass pastures year-round, and received bahiagrass hay supplemented with molasses and soyhulls or legume hay supplemented with unfortified molasses from October to June each production year. At monthly intervals, all cows were weighed, measured at the hip (HH), scored for BCS, and blood samples collected by jugular puncture from 10 cows per cow breed/block group for plasma urea N (PUN), glucose and non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA). Data were analyzed on cows that calved with a statistical model that included fixed effects of year, cowage, cow breed, month, block, supplement group (n = 2, but not presented), and whether the cow weaned a calf the previous year. Cow was a repeated observation over mo. Three-way interactions involving monthly patterns for cowage x year, year x lactation status the previous year, cowage cow breed, year cow breed, and cow breed lactation status the previous year were significant (P < 0.001) for BW and BCS. The interaction for cowage month was also significant (P < 0.05) for glucose, and cow breed month was important (P < 0.01) for PUN, glucose, and NEFA. Important differences included: 1) greater BW and BCS for older cows compared to 3-yr old cows; 2) greater BW and BCS before calving for cows that did not lactate the previous year; 3) PUN levels were above 11 mg/dl except for February, August and September, and was generally greater in tropically adapted breeds; 4) GLU was greatest in Brahman, lowest in Angus, and intermediate in Romosinuano cows; and 5) plasma levels of NEFA escalated at calving and then declined, but Brahman cows maintained greater (P < 0.05) levels from calving until weaning than the other breeds. Cows that lactated the previous year had less NEFA than those that did not lactate. Brahman cows were less fertile than Bos taurus breeds, and weaned heavier calves.