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J Anim Sci. 2019 Mar 1;97(3):1398-1406. doi: 10.1093/jas/sky476.

BEEF SPECIES-RUMINANT NUTRITION CACTUS BEEF SYMPOSIUM: Sustainable and economically viable management options for cow/calf production through enhanced beef cow metabolic efficiency1.

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West Central Research and Extension Center, University of Nebraska, North Platte, NE.


Beef cow herds are expected to be metabolically and reproductively efficient in varied and ever changing environmental conditions. Therefore, selection and management of grazing beef cows provides unique and diverse challenges in achieving optimal production efficiency for any environment. Beef cows face dynamic and highly variable nutritional environments that periodically are inadequate in meeting nutrient and energy requirements. Nutritional management during high metabolically stressed and key physiological states can lead to increased or decreased metabolic efficiency. Conversely, cow metabolic efficiency may be reduced in many production systems due to surplus nutritional inputs and reduced exposure to environmental stressors. Alternatively, metabolically potent supplementation strategies targeting enhanced energy metabolism and endocrine mechanisms would increase beef cow metabolic and economic efficiency. Metabolic efficient beef cows adapt to environmental changes by adjusting their metabolic energy utilization in order to match current environmental conditions and remain reproductively competent. This mechanism involves adaptive processes that drive adjustments in nutrient partitioning and energy utilization efficiency. However, the variation in metabolic and reproductive efficiency among beef cows within cow/calf production systems is substantial, suggesting a lack of complete integration of nutrition, genetics, and reproduction with environmental constraints and conditions. Better integration and understanding of the interactions may lead to advancements in metabolic efficiency of the cowherd. Metabolic flexibility is recognized as an important trait in dairy production but has received little attention thus far in beef cattle. Overall, management and supplementation strategies in cow/calf systems from a mechanistic, targeted nutritional approach during key physiological periods would hasten improvements in metabolic efficiency.


beef cow; metabolic efficiency; nutritional management; oxidative capacity

[Available on 2020-03-01]
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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