Beef heifers can be supplemented with perennial peanut hay instead of corn and soybean meal with no adverse impact on growth or reproduction, University of Florida scientists concluded.

Over two years, they divided 60 heifers into three groups and fed free-choice bermudagrass hay plus 2.7 lbs dry matter per day of 80% cracked corn and 20% soybean meal, 6 lbs dry matter per day of perennial peanut hay, or no supplement. The animals were fed those rations during a 140-day development phase, then commingled for a 77-day breeding season.

During development phase, heifers fed either supplement tended to have better daily gains than the unsupplemented group. Total dry-matter intake was higher for heifers fed perennial peanut hay vs. corn and soybean meal.

All heifers reached puberty at the same age and with similar body weights and body condition scores. However, overall pregnancy rates were highest in heifers fed perennial peanut hay and lowest in the unsupplemented group.