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Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia
On-line version ISSN 1806-9290
VAZ, Ricardo Zambarda et al. Performance of beef heifers until calving receiving different levels of supplementation during the breeding season, at 14 months of age . R. Bras. Zootec. [online]. 2012, vol.41, n.3, pp.797-806. ISSN 1806-9290. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1516-35982012000300045.
The objective was to evaluate the performance of beef heifers until calving receiving different levels of supplementation on native pasture during the first breeding season, from 14 to 17 months: no supplementation; 3.5 g/kg of body weight; and 7.0 g/kg of body weight. Ninety-eight Charolais, Nellore and their crosses, with average initial weight of 255 kg, were used. Weight at the end and average daily weight gain during the supplementation period were higher for 7.0 g/kg of supplement heifers (322 and 0.701 kg) compared to those with 3.5 g/kg of supplement (302 and 0.464 kg) and heifers without supplementation (288 and 0.425 kg), which did not differ from each other. Body condition score at the end of the supplementation was different between the three treatments, being 3.03, 3.33 and 3.47 points for heifers without supplementation; 3.5 g/kg of body weight; and 7.0 g/kg of body weight, respectively. Pregnancy rate was significantly affected by supplementation level, being 35.0, 34.2 and 70.0%, respectively. Heifers of the two supplementation treatments had higher conception rate at the first half of the reproductive period. Average heifer ages at calving were of 785, 778 and 761 days, respectively. The average daily weight and body condition of the heifers of the two genetic groups were similar; however, the initial and final weight of the supplementation period was higher for Charolais bulls daughters, compared with Nellore bulls daughters, reflecting on the heat (68.8 vs. 38.2%) and pregnancy (60.9 vs. 26.5%) rates. Characteristics related to calving were not affected by the supplementation levels during the reproductive period. The supplementation during the first breeding season increases reproductive performance of heifers at 14 months of age.
Keywords : average daily gain; body condition; Charolais; Nellore.