Effects of dietary nonstructural carbohydrates and protein sources on feeding behavior of tethered heifers fed high-concentrate diets

A. Rotger, A. Ferret, X. Manteca, J. L. Ruiz De La Torre, S. Calsamiglia

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To describe the feeding behavior of growing heifers fed high-concentrate diets with different sources of protein and nonstructural carbohydrates, and to explain the ruminai fermentation pattern, 4 ruminally fistulated Holstein heifers (BW = 132.3 ± 1.61 kg) were assigned to a 4 × 4 Latin square design with a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement of treatments. Two non-structural carbohydrate sources (barley and corn) and 2 protein sources [soybean meal (SBM) and sunflower meal (SFM)] that differ in their rate and extent of ruminal degradation were combined, resulting in a synchronized, rapid fermentation diet (barley-SFM), a synchronized, slow fermentation diet (corn-SBM), and 2 unsynchronized diets consisting of a rapidly and a slowly fermenting component (barley-SBM and corn-SFM). The corn-SFM diet resulted in a lower frequency of feeding (P ≤ 0.05), longer meal length (P ≤ 0.043), and larger meal size (P ≤ 0.037) than the other 3 diets. Dietary treatment had no effect (P ≥ 0.09) on the daily percentages of posture and behaviors. In general, heifers spent 9.97 ± 0.83% of the day eating, 2.11 ± 0.42% drinking, 25.13 ± 1.36% ruminating, 16.97 ± 1.42% in other activities such as social behavior and self-grooming, and the rest of the day (45.82 ± 2.55%) resting or doing no chewing activities. Eating, drinking, and social behaviors were performed while standing (P < 0.01), whereas resting and ruminating occurred mainly while lying (P = 0.001). Eating took place mainly in the first 4 h after feeding (P = 0.001), whereas ruminating occurred mainly at night (P = 0.001). When chewing activities (eating and ruminating) were expressed per kilogram of DM or NDF from roughage intake, more time (P = 0.004) was spent chewing per kilogram of DMI for barley-based diets, and per kilogram of NDF from roughage intake for barley- (P = 0.01) and SFM- (P = 0.002) based diets. Tethered heifers fed the more fermentable and rapidly synchronized diet (barley-SFM) reduced intake and increased chewing time. With these high-concentrate diets, time spent chewing was inversely related to roughage intake. ©2006 American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1197-1204
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2006


  • Feeding behavior
  • Growing cattle
  • High-concentrate diet


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