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Does fetal programming affect you? Only if you are in the cattle business…
Drovers news source (9/13/2010)
You may have heard talk about fetal programming at a Cattleman’s symposium or similar beef industry meeting, but does it affect you? In short, Yes! If you are in the business of producing or selling beef cattle, fetal programming affects what you have to sell.
Fetal programming is based on the concept that a maternal stimulus or insult at a critical period in fetal development has long-term impacts on the offspring. This long-term impact is not unlike genetic potential that is programmed before birth. You cannot change a calf’s genetics after it is born; you can only provide that calf with optimum growing conditions and hope it has the genetic potential to be profitable. Fetal programming is similar, in that you cannot fix periods of gestational malnutrition after the calf is born. All you can do is provide that calf with the optimum growing conditions and hope that it still has the potential to be profitable.
A partial list of the areas fetal programming has been shown to impact include:
- Skeletal muscle development/calf growth and weight potential
- Marbling/carcass potential
- Reproductive efficiency of replacement heifers
- Increased BW from weaning through three years of age
- Greater pregnancy rates
- Heifers more likely to calve in the initial 21 days of the calving season
Studies have compared herds split into two groups for at least the first two trimesters (six months) of their pregnancy. One group received inadequate crude protein in their diet, and the second group received adequate crude protein. Even though calves were treated the same after birth, lack of adequate crude protein early in gestation caused differences throughout the calf’s life.
Many spring calving herds will be in the second trimester of pregnancy in September and October. Fall pastures often do not provide adequate crude protein for gestating beef cows. You are only given one opportunity to get things right. Give those calves the protein they need now during gestation to set the stage for lifelong profitability. Early fall is the time to act. Program your herd for profitability with self-fed CRYSTALYX® Brand protein supplements for ultimate ease of use and low cost-per-head-per-day delivery of key protein.
Source: Mark Robbins, Animal Nutritionist, Ridley Block Operations