Pregnant beef cow's nutrition and its effects on postnatal weight and carcass quality of their progeny

PLoS One. 2020 Aug 27;15(8):e0237941. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0237941. eCollection 2020.


A systematic review (SR) and meta-analysis (MA) were performed to evaluate the effects of different energy levels (metabolizable energy, ME) and crude protein (CP), supplied to pregnant cows, on weight of their progenies at 60 (BW60), 100 (BW100), 180 (BW180) and 205 (BW205) days of age, average daily gain (ADG), and weight, age, loin eye area (LEA), marbling and fat thickness (FT) at slaughter. The SR was performed on two electronic databases. The MA for random effects was performed for each response variable separately. The BW60 was reduced (P<0.001; I2 = 78.9%) when cows consumed CP and ME above the required levels during the third trimester of pregnancy (3TRI). The BW205 was lower (P<0.001; I2 = 92.6%) when cows consumed ME above the recommended levels in the second trimester of pregnancy (2TRI) and 3TRI. Conversely, the ADG was higher when cows consumed CP (P = 0.032; I2 = 96.1%) and ME (P<0.001; I2 = 96.1%) above the required levels. The steers whose mothers consumed CP and ME above the required levels during the 3TRI were slaughtered 5.5 days earlier (P = 0.015; I2 = 98.5%) compared to other steers. The marbling was higher (P<0.001; I2 = 91.7%) in calves born to mothers consuming CP and ME above the recommended levels, regardless of the gestation phase. The FT was higher (P<0.001; I2 = 0%) in the offspring of cows that consumed CP and ME above the required levels during the 3TRI. Thus, CP and ME intake, at levels higher than those recommended by the NRC, by pregnant cows in the 3TRI reduces the progeny weight up to 205 days of age. However, this is advantageous during the finishing phase, as it reduces slaughter age and increases the ADG and carcass quality by improving marbling and FT.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Weight*
  • Cattle
  • Female
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Pregnancy
  • Red Meat*

Grants and funding

Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) provided support for this study in the form of a grant awarded to DZ (88882.316330/2019-01). The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.