Efficiency of Calf Production from Twin-bearing Beef Cows on an Intensive Pasture System in Subtropical Australia

  • Hennessy, D.W. ;
  • Wilkins, J.F.
  • Received : 2004.11.25
  • Accepted : 2005.05.11
  • Published : 2005.12.01


Forty-two single-bearing and 42 twin-bearing mature Angus${\times}$Hereford cows were allocated, seven per cell to 3 replications of 2 stocking rates (3.2 cows/ha; medium stocking rate [MSR], and 3.8 cows/ha; high stocking rate [HSR]) to graze summer-active and winter-active pastures from late pregnancy to the weaning of their calves. Cow liveweights and growth of calves were recorded as well as estimates of pasture quantity and forage intake. Pasture quantity did not differ in the paddocks grazed by single- and twin-bearing cows during pregnancy, nor effectively did forage intake. Subsequently, intake was higher during mid-lactation especially with twin-rearing cows (25% higher than single-rearing cows at the MSR; 9% at the HSR). However, quantity of pasture decreased for twin-rearing cows and was less than that available to single-rearing cows as lactation progressed. Liveweights of twinrearing cows decreased by 16% from late pregnancy to weaning at the MSR, and by 14% at the HSR, compared to decreases of 1% for single-rearing cows. Twin calves were lighter at birth, had slower growth rates, and were lighter at weaning than single calves. In spite of weaning smaller calves twinning increased the output (kg of calf weaned) per cow and per ha, and increased the efficiency (kg calf weaned per unit of forage eaten by the cow) over single calf production by 46% at the MSR and by 58% at the HSR. Twinning also increased the marginal returns from investment in high input pastures required by the enterprise.


Twinning;Forage Intake;Pastures;Calf Growth;Efficiency;Beef Cattle


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Supported by : Meat Research Corporation