Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Vann, Rhonda C.

Committee Member

Willard, Scott T.

Committee Member

Ryan, Peter L.

Committee Member

Macoon, Bisoondat

Committee Member

Anderson, John D.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Animal Physiology

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences


The purpose of these studies was to evaluate the effects of a dietary fat supplementation on growth, reproduction and performance characteristics of replacement beef heifers reared in different management systems (pasture and dry lot conditions). The objectives were (1) to quantify changes in body composition traits and growth performance of replacement beef heifers fed different levels of fat in the supplemented diet,(2) to determine the reproductive performance of heifers supplemented with dietary fat in either a ryegrass pasture system or a dry lot system, and (3) to determine the value of real-time ultrasound technology (RTU) as an alternative technology to assist producers in the decision making process within replacement beef heifer programs. Over the three year study, we observed that both high (3 - 5%) and low (1.5 ? 2.5%)levels of dietary fat supplementation of replacement heifers did not have a negative affect in reproductive performance and body composition traits significantly, compared to controls (pasture-base, no supplementation. However, a positive response with respect to some body composition traits was observed in animals fed the higher level of dietary fat in 2004 and 2005 studies. Overall, growth of animals grazing ryegrass outperformed animals supplemented with dietary fat in a dry lot system; yet when dietary fat supplementation was integrated with a ryegrass pasture system, besides the positive effects in body composition traits metabolic changes in relevant reproduction hormones were observed with the addition of dietary fat treatment. Finally, the use of information on body composition traits of replacement beef heifers through the use of real-time ultrasound technology in the decision-making process resulted in a small financial return in these studies. However, the use of this alternative technology in a replacement beef heifer program may have additional value beyond the limited feeding periods reported here. These may include, a greater ability to predict heifer fertility as linked to growth and developmental characteristics (e.g., body composition traits), yet this requires further study.