Preweaning injections of bovine ST enhanced reproductive performance of Bos indicus-influenced replacement beef heifers.
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A 3 yr study evaluated the effects of three preweaning injections of bovine ST, administered 14 d apart, on growth and reproductive performance of Bos indicus-influenced beef heifers. On d 0 of each year, suckling Angus Brangus heifers (n = 15 heifers/treatment/yr) were stratified by BW (147 20 kg) and age (134 11 d) and randomly assigned to receive an s.c. injection of saline (SAL; 5 mL; 0.9% NaCl) or 250 mg of sometribove zinc (BST; Posilac, Elanco, Greenfield, IN) on d 0, 14, and 28. Heifers and respective dams were managed as a single group on bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum) pastures from d 0 until weaning (d 127). From d 127 to 346, heifers were grouped by treatment, allocated to bahiagrass pastures (1 pasture/treatment/yr) and fed a molasses-based supplement (2.9 kg/heifer daily; DM basis) until d 346. Blood samples were collected on d 0, 14, 28, 42, and then every 9-10 d from d 179 to 346. In yr 3, liver biopsy samples were collected on d 0, 42, and 263. Heifers were exposed to mature Angus bulls from d 263 to 346. Growth performance and physiological parameters were analyzed using the MIXED procedure, whereas reproductive variables were analyzed using the GLIMMIX procedure of SAS. Effects of treatment year and treatment year time were not detected for any variable measured in this study (P 0.14), except for calving percentage (P = 0.03). Heifers assigned to BST injections had greater overall plasma concentrations of IGF-1 and ADG from d 0 to 42 (P 0.05), less ADG from d 42 to 127 (P = 0.04), but had similar BW at weaning and postweaning ADG (P 0.25) compared to SAL heifers. Heifers assigned to BST tended to achieve puberty 26 d earlier (P = 0.10), had greater percentage of pubertal heifers on d 244, 263, 284, and 296 (P 0.04), tended to have greater overall pregnancy percentage (P = 0.10), and had greater (P 0.05) calving percentages in yr 1 and 2 (but not yr 3; P = 0.68) compared to SAL heifers. Liver mRNA expression of GHR-1B and IGF-1 on d 0 and 42 did not differ between treatments (P 0.15), but was greater for BST vs. SAL heifers on d 263 (P 0.02). Hence, administering three injections containing 250 mg of sometribove zinc at 14 d intervals before weaning (between 135 and 163 d of age) induced long-term impacts on liver gene expression and may be a feasible management practice to enhance puberty and pregnancy attainment in B. indicus-influenced replacement beef heifers.