Effect of increasing the level of alfalfa hay in finishing beef heifer diets on intake, sorting, and feeding behavior

A. Madruga, L. A. González, E. Mainau, J. L. Ruíz De La Torre, M. Rodríguez-Prado, X. Manteca, A. Ferret

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2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

© The Author(s) 2018. Eight rumen cannulated Simmental heifers (BW = 281.4 ± 7.28 kg) were randomly assigned to one of four experimental treatments in a 4 × 4 replicated Latin square design to ascertain the effects of increasing levels of alfalfa hay on intake, sorting, and feeding behavior in comparison to barley straw as forage source. Treatments tested were four total mixed rations with: 1) 10% barley straw (10BS) with 7.0% NDF from forage, 2) 13% alfalfa hay (13AH) and less NDF from forage (5.7%) than 10BS, 3) 16% alfalfa hay (16AH) and the same NDF from forage (7.0%) as 10BS, and 4) 19% alfalfa hay (19AH) and more NDF from forage (8.3%) than 10BS. Each experimental period consisted of 3 wk for adaptation and 1 wk for sampling. Increasing the proportion of alfalfa hay in the diet linearly increased (P < 0.05) total DMI, CP intake, water consumption, intake of long, medium and fine particle size, extent of sorting of fine particle size, and time spent rumination, but linearly decreased (P < 0.05) extent of sorting of short particle size. Intake of DM was higher in heifers fed 16AH and 19AH than in heifers fed 10BS (P < 0.001). Intake of NDF and physically effective NDF (peNDF) was greater in 13AH, 16AH, and 19AH than in 10BS (P < 0.01). The DMI of medium and short particle size was greater in 13AH, 16AH, and 19AH than in 10BS (P < 0.05), whereas DMI of long particle size was greater in 16AH and 19AH compared to 10BS (P < 0.001). Heifers fed 13AH, 16AH, and 19AH diets sorted against fine particle size and sorted for or tended to sort for short, medium, and long particle sizes. Meal length was greater in heifers fed 16AH and 19AH than 10BS (P < 0.05). Time spent eating was not affected by diet but time spent ruminating was greater in heifers fed 19AH than in 10BS (P < 0.05). Results indicate that the inclusion of alfalfa hay at 19% of incorporation caused an increase in DM, NDF, and peNDF intake, in comparison to the 10BS diet. In the same way, intake of long, medium, and short particle size was greater in this diet. Moreover, heifers fed 19AH sorted for medium particle size and tended to sort for long and short particles size, and against fine particle size. Sorting behavior and meal length increased in the 19AH diet, which leads us to think that sorting feed ingredients requires time and therefore lengthens the meal. Time spent ruminating was greater in heifers fed 19AH, thus reducing the risk of ruminal acidosis when animals are fed high concentrate diets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Volume96
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018

Keywords

  • Alfalfa hay
  • Barley straw
  • Beef heifers
  • Sorting behavior

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