Method of feed delivery can affect the
growth and feed efficiency of young heifers transitioning to a higher-forage
diet, according to research from Purdue University.
During the study, researchers fed a
diet consisting of 40% forage and 60% grain mix (dry matter basis) to 90
heifers that were about 136 days of age. The feed delivery methods were: 1) a
hay feeder and grain bunk, 2) forage and grain fed side-by-side in a bunk, or
3) a total mixed ration. The study took place over a 28-day period.
Graduate student Tana Dennis reported
the group’s findings in March at the American Dairy Science Association Midwest
meeting. Here are some key results:
tended to affect daily weight gain. For example, heifers fed using a hay feeder
gained 2.29 pounds per day compared to 1.94 pounds per day for TMR-fed heifers.
matter intake was also similar between delivery methods. However, at the end of
the study, dry matter intake was lowest for heifers fed forage and grain
side-by-side and highest for heifers fed with a hay feeder and grain bunk and
heifers fed a TMR.
efficiency improved for heifers on the hay feeder/grain bunk treatment and
heifers fed forage and grain side-by-side, compared to TMR-fed heifers.
The researchers concluded that
component-fed diets improved feed efficiency compared to a TMR when growing
heifers are being transitioned to a higher-forage diet.