Efficacy of Hormonal Growth Promoter Implants on the Performance of Grazing Steers of Different Breeds in Southern Chile

Resumen:
Increasing demands for land is necessitating the optimisation of grazing land used for livestock production. Hormonal growth promoter implants (HGPI) are widely used to improve cattle performance and thus land-use efficiency. However, there is limited information on their efficacy in grazing systems. Forty grazing steers, 10 of each breed (Angus, Hereford, Holstein, Overo Colorado), had growth rates monitored for 85 days after which half received HGPI and half continued as a control. Growth rates were monitored for an additional 61 days and performance between the groups compared. Implants had a significant impact on liveweight gain (LWG; p = 0.013), and whilst breed did not (p = 0.65), there was an interaction effect of breed x treatment (p = 0.029). For three of the four breeds, the LWG was greater in the implant group (mean +14.3%). The exception was for Holstein steers which did not respond to the implant. In general, HGPI were found to be effective in increasing LWG of grazing cattle and thus has the potential to increase yield densities and relieve pressures of land use and competition. The efficacy may be affected by breed and other extraneous factors not covered in this study. Furthermore, the use of HGPI must be carefully considered in a wider context since its use might have secondary impacts.

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