Relationships among performance, residual feed intake, and temperament assessed in growing beef heifers and subsequently as 3-year-old, lactating beef cows
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Seventy-four beef heifers were used to evaluate relationships among performance, residual feed intake (RFI), and temperament measured as growing heifers (Phase 1) and subsequently as 3-yr-old lactating beef cows (Phase 2) in the same cohort. In both phases, females were housed in a covered facility and fed similar forage-based diets, and individual feed intakes, BW, BCS, chute scores (CS), exit velocities (EV), and pen scores (PS) were collected throughout the 70-d feeding trials. In Phase 2, cows were milked on trial d 14 (lactation d 28 ± 3.5) and trial d 70 (lactation d 84 ± 3.5) to determine energy-corrected milk (ECM) production. Ultrasonic backfat thickness (BF), and ribeye area (REA) were evaluated on d 0 and 70 of the trial in Phase 2. Heifers were ranked by RFI and placed into Low (<0.5 SD mean RFI; n = 27), Medium (within ± 0.5 SD; n = 23), and High (>0.5 SD mean RFI; n = 24) RFI groups. Body weight, BCS, and ADG were similar among all RFI groups; however, daily DMI differed for all groups (P < 0.01) and was greater (10.76 ± 0.24 kg/d) for High, intermediate (9.88 ± 0.25 kg/d) for Medium, and less (8.52 ± 0.23 kg/d) for Low RFI heifers. When cow performance was analyzed based on RFI rank as heifers, BW, BCS, ADG, RFI, d 14 and d 70 ECM, BF, and REA were similar among RFI groups; however, cows that were most efficient as heifers (Low) had decreased (P < 0.05) daily DMI values (10.30 ± 0.41 kg/d) compared with cows that ranked Medium (11.60 ± 0.44 kg/d) or High (11.50 ± 0.43 kg/d) as heifers. The Pearson rank correlation between Phase 1 and 2 RFI was r = 0.13 (P = 0.30), and Pearson rank correlations showed no relationship (P > 0.1) between RFI and temperament. Phase 1 CS was negatively associated with ADG in Phase 1 (r = -0.28; P = 0.02) and 2 (r = -0.32; P = 0.01), and positively associated with d 14 (r = 0.24; P = 0.04) and 70 (r = 0.25; P = 0.03) ECM. Phase 2 CS was negatively associated with Phase 2 ADG (r = -0.29; P = 0.01) and positively associated with d 14 (r = 0.46; P = 0.001) and 70 (r = 0.33; P = 0.004) ECM. Phase 2 PS also tended to be negatively associated with DMI in Phase 1 (r = -0.20; P = 0.096) and 2 (r = -0.20; P = 0.08). In this study, heifers that were most feed efficient subsequently consumed less feed as lactating cows and maintained similar performance. Feed efficiency was not associated with differences in temperament; however, more excitable females had poorer BW gains and tended to have reduced feed intakes but produced more ECM.
author list (cited authors)
Black, T. E., Bischoff, K. M., Mercadante, V., Marquezini, G., DiLorenzo, N., Chase, C. C., ... Lamb, G. C.