Effects of supplementation frequency on performance, reproductive, and metabolic responses of Brahman-crossbred females.
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Two experiments were conducted to compare performance and metabolic responses of beef females consuming low-quality forages and offered an energy supplement based on fibrous byproducts daily (S7) or 3 times per week (S3) at similar weekly rates. In Exp. 1, BW gain, reproductive performance, mRNA expression of hepatic and skeletal muscle genes associated with nutritional metabolism and growth, and concentrations of blood urea nitrogen (BUN), plasma glucose, insulin, and IGF-I were assessed in 56 Brahman x Angus heifers supplemented at a daily rate of 1.0% of BW. Mean BW gain was greater (P = 0.03) for S7 compared with S3 heifers. Treatment x sampling day interactions were detected (P < 0.01) for all blood measurements. Heifers provided S7 had less daily variation in concentrations of BUN, glucose, and insulin, and frequently had greater (P < 0.05) concentrations of IGF-I compared with S3 heifers. Expression of liver IGF-I mRNA was greater (P = 0.04) for S7 heifers compared with S3 heifers. Treatment x day interactions were detected (P = 0.05) for mRNA expression of liver IGFBP-3, gluconeogenic enzymes, and muscle myostatin because the expression of these transcripts was greater (P < 0.05) for S3 heifers when both treatment groups were supplemented, but was similar or greater (cytosolic phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase; P = 0.04) for S7 heifers when only these were supplemented. Attainment of puberty and pregnancy were hastened (P = 0.03 and 0.02, respectively) in S7 heifers compared with S3 heifers. In Exp. 2, 12 Brahman x British mature cows received S3 or S7 for a 3-wk period at a daily rate of 0.5% of BW. Concentrations of BUN were greater for S7 compared with S3 cows (P < 0.03). A treatment x time interaction was detected (P = 0.01) for insulin concentrations because a time effect was significant (P < 0.01) for S3 but not S7 cows. With the advance of the experiment, concentrations of IGF-I increased for S7 (P < 0.01) but not S3 cows (treatment x week interaction; P = 0.02). The combined expression of gluconeogenic enzymes mRNA tended to be greater (P = 0.09) for S3 cows when both treatment groups received supplements, but was greater (P = 0.03) for S7 cows when only these were supplemented (treatment x day interaction; P < 0.01). In conclusion, offering an energy supplement based on fibrous byproducts daily instead of 3 times weekly enhanced the nutritional and metabolic status of forage-fed Brahman-crossbred females, resulting in improved growth and reproductive performance of developing heifers.