Agroscope, Institute for Plant Production Sciences IPS, 1260 Nyon, Switzerland

Production parameters in a suckler cow system with Simmental and Angus cows on alpine pastures

In Switzerland +Natura Beef® + is the brand name for suckler cow calves which will be slaughtered at weaning at the age of 10 months. The goal of this investigation was to compare production efficiency of medium sized dual purpose Simmental cows and small sized and strong by muscled Angus cows. The whole herd was mated by Angus sires. The resulting 80 calves were born in winter and spring 1997/98 and 1998/99. They stayed the following summer on an alpine pasture at 2000 m above sea level and were finished with hay and modest amounts of barley in the valley during the following autumn and winter. Live weight has been measured every two weeks. Individual feed intake was recorded regularly in the valley where the cows were fed a total mixed ration containing straw, hay and grass-silage (5,0 MJ NEL). The calves were weaned and slaughtered at once as soon as they had reached a sufficient fat cover. For this reason, at slaughter the most of the calves were older than the maximum 10 months requested by Natura-Beef® -prescriptions. In the period from lactation week 2 until 10, metabolic live weight showed a highly significant effect on dry matter intake, while no significant effect of the breed was found. During week 33 until 43 Simmental cows consumed 2 kg dry matter more than Angus cows, while no effect for metabolic live weight were found. Cows in first lactation had in both periods lower food intake than cows in second or higher lactation. The Simmental x Angus calves had a higher live and net weight gain than the pure-bred Angus calves (100 and 60 g/day). Male calves and calves from cows in second or higher lactation obtained higher weight gains than female calves and calves from cows in first lactation. Simmental x Angus calves had a higher percentage of meat and valuable meat than Angus calves (difference of 0,6 % and 1,0 %). The superiority of the dual purpose cow type to the specialised beef type in this suckler cow system is mainly caused by the higher milk yield of the Simmental cows.

To the archive