Performance, behaviour and meat quality of beef heifers fed concentrate and straw offered as total mixed ration or free-choice

Sergio P. Iraira, Ana Madruga, María Pérez-Juan, José L. Ruiz-de-la-Torre, María Rodriguez-Prado, Sergio Calsamiglia, Xavier Manteca, Alfred Ferret

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4 Citations (Scopus)


© 2015 INIA. Eighteen Simmental heifers were fed concentrate and barley straw offered as a total mixed ration (TMR) or separately as a free choice (FCH) to compare performance, behaviour, and meat quality. The heifers were assigned to treatments in a randomized complete block design. Animals were allotted to roofed pens with 3 animals per pen, and 3 pens per treatment. Intake of concentrate, average daily gain, and gain to feed ratio were not different between diets, being on average 7.6 kg/day, 1.38 kg/day and 0.18 kg/kg, respectively. Straw intake was greater in TMR than in FCH treatment (0.7 vs 0.3 kg/day, respectively; p<0.001). Crude protein intake, neutral detergent fibre intake and water consumption did not differ between treatments. Time spent eating was longer in FCH than in TMR (p=0.001), whereas time spent ruminating and total chewing time were longer (p<0.01) in TMR than in FCH. The number of displacements resulting from competition for feed in the main feeder in TMR treatment tended to be greater than in FCH treatment. There were no differences in the carcass characteristics and quality of meat of animals assigned to the different feeding methods, but the percentage of 18:2 n-6 was higher in FCH treatment. In summary, these results suggest that the use of TMR as a feeding method in beef cattle fed high concentrate diets did not affect performance and increased time spent ruminating with a potential decrease of ruminal acidosis incidence.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0610
JournalSpanish Journal of Agricultural Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Beef cattle
  • Feeding method
  • High concentrate diets


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