Effect of feeding method on intake and behaviour of individually reared beef heifers fed a concentrate diet from 115 to 185 kg of body weight

S. P. Iraira, J. L. Ruíz De La Torre, M. Rodríguez-Prado, X. Manteca, S. Calsamiglia, A. Ferret

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7 Citations (Scopus)


A total of eight Simmental heifers (114 ± 3.2 days old and weighing 118 ± 3.8 kg BW) were used to study the effects of feeding method on intake and animal behaviour in a crossover design experiment. Treatments consisted of feeding concentrate and chopped barley straw as (1) choice (CH; concentrate and straw in separate feedbunks) or (2) total mixed ration (TMR; concentrate and straw in one feedbunk). Feeds were offered on an ad libitum basis, but always maintaining a concentrate to straw ratio of 90 to 10. The experiment was performed in two 21-day periods, and sampling was carried out in the last week of each period. At the end of each period, treatment was changed for heifers; hence, the final number of animals per treatment was eight. Intake was recorded over 7 consecutive days. BW was recorded at the beginning and the end of the experiment and on day 21 of each experimental period. Barley straw was coarsely chopped with a chopping machine. Once chopped, all the straw was handled for particle size separation using the 2-screen Penn State Particle Separator and only material of more than 8 mm was used to feed the heifers. Animal behaviour was video-recorded for 24 h on day 2 and day 6 of each experimental period. Concentrate intake and total dry matter intake of heifers fed with the CH feeding method were higher (P < 0.01 and P < 0.05) than when fed with TMR (5.1 and 5.3 v. 4.7 and 5.0 kg dry matter (DM)/day, respectively). Conversely, barley straw was consumed in higher amounts in heifers fed with the TMR feeding method (0.3 v. 0.2 kg DM/day, respectively; P = 0.001). The total NDF intake was similar in both treatments. In contrast, NDF intake from barley straw and physically effective NDF intake were higher in heifers fed with the TMR feeding method than when fed with CH. Feeding method used to feed heifers did not affect the consumption of the different kinds of barley straw particles and eating and drinking behaviours but affected ruminating behaviour. Heifers fed TMR spent more time ruminating than heifers fed concentrate and barley straw separately (376 v. 287 min/day, respectively; P < 0.01). TMR as the feeding method in intensive beef production systems could be a good approach to promote roughage intake. © The Animal Consortium 2011.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1483-1490
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2012


  • behaviour
  • feeding method
  • growing heifers
  • high-concentrate diet


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