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Main research question/goal
What are the factors determining calving interval in Belgian Blue double-muscled cows? Can the calving interval be modified by an appropriate management, specifically by the use of dietary fat? The calf crop is the most important return in beef cow husbandry. The calving interval can be high and is mostly higher than 400 days. We would like to reduce this interval. At the same time we have established that the selection for meatiness has resulted in an imbalance between calf birth weight and dam pelvic size, resulting in a high frequency of cesarean sections. Is there an opportunity to increase the occurrence of natural parturitions? By collecting data from pelvic measurements ILVO will contribute to the selection of the Belgian Blue double-muscled beef type.

Research approach
We inventory the factors affecting the calving interval in Belgian Blue double-muscled cows. We also look for possible interactions between parity, body condition, time of the year, calf gender, suckling or not, artificial insemination or natural mating, etc. Furthermore, we examine the effect of nutrition on reproduction performance when giving a fat supplementation during the last months of gestation via feeding full fat soybeans. This treatment will be compared with diets without supplementary fat (positive control) or with extra starch. Because soybeans also add extra protein to  the diet, the effect of a diet fed according protein requirements (negative control) will also be investigated. Pelvic size is measured to investigate the possibility for natural parturitions.

Calving interval is mostly higher than 400 days. In beef cow husbandry, the objective is to produce one live calf per year per cow. Reducing the calving interval means a reducing feed amounts plus savings on feed costs and labour for obtaining the same calf. This will also naturally postively affect beef cow profitability.

Funding provider(s)
ILVO - Instituut voor Landbouw-, Visserij- en voedingsonderzoek

External partner(s)
Ugent - Fac. Diergeneeskunde
Effective start/end date1/09/10 → …

ID: 4148789