Increasing sodium bicarbonate level in high-concentrate diets for heifers. II. Effects on chewing and feeding behaviors

L. A. González, A. Ferret, X. Manteca, S. Calsamiglia

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19 Citations (Scopus)


Four Holstein heifers (264 ± 12 kg initial BW) were used in a 4 x 4 Latin square design with 21-day experimental periods to determine the effect of increasing levels of sodium bicarbonate (BICARB) (0%, 1.25%, 2.5% and 5%, of concentrate dry matter (DM) basis) on chewing and feed intake behavior when fed high-concentrate diets. Concentrate (13.41% CP, 13.35% NDF) and barley straw were fed once a day at 0830 h ad libitum. Feed bunks placed on scales and video recording were used to measure 24-h feed intake and chewing behavior, respectively. The patterns of feeding behavior (feed intake, meal size and length) and chewing behavior (eating, ruminating and total chewing) were studied by dividing the day into 12 intervals of 2-h each, beginning at feeding (interval 1 through 12). Number of meals per day and eating rate decreased linearly with increasing buffer level, but meal length increased linearly. No treatment effects were observed in sum of daily meal lengths or average meal size. The treatment x interval interaction was significant on meal size, length and feed intake. The size and length of those meals occurring during the 4 h post-feeding increased linearly. However, meal size tended to decrease in the evening between 8 and 12 h, whereas feed intake decreased linearly from 6 to 10 h and from 12 to 14 h post-feeding. Buffer concentration did not affect the percentage of time spent ruminating, eating or drinking per day but the buffer level x interval interaction was significant. Time spent eating expressed as min per kg of DM or organic matter (OM) intake increased linearly with buffer levels. Proportion of time spent eating increased linearly during the intervals between 0 and 4 h post-feeding. Time spent ruminating decreased linearly during the 2 h post-feeding, and also in the evening from 12 to 14 h, and at night from 18 to 22 h post-feeding, but the effect was quadratic between 8 and 10 h when intermediate buffer levels showed the greatest ruminating time. Time spent drinking decreased linearly from 6 to 8 h but increased during the 2 h following feeding and from 10 to 12 h post-feeding. Daily eating rate and meal frequency decreased linearly as the buffer level increased, but average meal size and daily chewing times were not affected. However, significant time of the day x buffer level interactions were observed for feed intake, meal size and length and chewing behavior. © 2008 The Animal Consortium.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)713-722
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2008


  • Behavior
  • Growing cattle
  • Sodium bicarbonate


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