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Summary: Cow Calf Symposium

By: Colby Redifer and Anne Zinn

On July 18, the Ruminant Nutrition Symposium: Current and future perspectives on nutritional management in the beef cow-calf sector had a panel of speakers conducting research in a variety of environments and production systems. Dr. Harvey Freetly (USDA MARC) kicked off the session sharing data where beef cow metabolizable energy for maintenance had a moderate heritability and could possibly be used as a selection tool going forward. Next, Dr. Daniel Shike (University of Illinois) presented data comparing pasture-based and drylot/confinement cow-calf production systems. A follow-up study examined the effects of offering creep feed for all of the pre-weaning period or just the last 3 weeks prior to weaning in a drylot setting. Feed efficiency of pregnant and lactating beef cows consuming moderate to low-quality forage diets was discussed by Dr. David Lalman (Oklahoma State University). While feed efficiency is thought to decrease with cow size, large but efficient or small but inefficient individuals have been observed. The “ideal” cow that Dr. Eric Scholljegerdes (New Mexico State University) works with in the arid rangelands of New Mexico is much smaller than the beef cows of Oklahoma. Dr. Scholljegerdes highlighted the impacts of growth implants used in future replacement females and protein or rumen-protected arginine supplementation on cow-calf productivity. The session concluded with Dr. Allison Meyer (University of Missouri) who addressed gaps in our current knowledge of beef cow nutritional management including the nutrient requirements of the physiologically productive beef cow, what mechanisms play a role in nutrient partitioning, and establishing the nutrient needs of the pre-weaning beef calf.